The concept of T-learning holds a conceptual space for collective learning and action that is responsive to this time of climate change and injustice bound up in its causes and impacts. Rather than settle on a T-learning definition at the beginning, this research sought to animate the concept through praxis emerging in multiple real world contexts. It has resonance with existing concepts and discourses such as transformative, transgressive, and transdisciplinary learning.As members of the T-learning knowledge network (TKN), we take these different understandings into account as we engage with existing situated praxis taking place in nine case studies around the world.

The diversity of case studies holds us accountable to the diversity of the world and leads us to question the possibility of a single, static definition. For example, the aggressive nature of the term transgressive is problematic amongst community members in Colombia, a post-conflict society where peace-keeping is tender and highly prioritised. For the Netherlands case study, local food and climate change, the edginess of the idea of transgressiveness is where the real T-learning energy lies. The community of women farmers in Malawi, are specific about how the concept ‘transformative’ serves their purposes. They are not interested in radical transformation but want to preserve their existing farming practices and thus find the idea of incremental transformation more suitable to their work towards reducing their vulnerability to climate change. This highlights the fluidity of concepts across contexts. Of course, we have not yet explored the impact of multiple languages upon the meaning of these terms.

It is important for this knowledge network to be able to communicate a meaning of T-learning so as to invite dialogue and participation from a broader community. At the same time, we do not want to set this definition in stone and misrepresent the nature of situated, place-responsive learning that necessarily changes from one context to the next. At the moment, what feels more important is to enrich dialogue by creating a space where different people can meet each other given varied understandings of a concept.

The definition below came out of a co-defining process which comes out of the dragon dreaming methodology, brought to our network by Martha Chaves and Thomas McIntyre. The process is described below the definition and I include a second exercise that takes into account different languages:

T-learning is a regenerative, conflictive and hopeful process which involves diversity and drives changes in stubborn cultural practices and identities for sustainability, and triggers change for sustainability in times of (dis)comfort at different levels, scales and in spaces.

Dragon dreaming:

  1. Divide participants into groups of 4-5 people
  2. Instruction: In your groups discuss your understandings, thoughts and feelings about the concept in question. Ensure everyone has a chance to voice their thoughts! Draft a definition based on your discussions.
  3. Make an exhibition of the definitions and do a walk about in silence, observing the definitions that have emerged.
  4. The facilitator will take one definition (by vote or by volunteering) and write it onto a large piece of paper that can be put in the middle of a group.
  5. The facilitator invites the participants to read the definition, and encourages those who feel the need to change a word or a phrase directly on the definition using a marker. It is important to ask that care is taken in letting everyone get access to the definition.
  6. Once the stated time limit runs out,, stand back and write out the final version in neat.
  7. Reflect on this exercise! What was interesting, what was frustrating, what changed for you?


Translation exercise (for a group with multiple languages)

In groups of 4 or 5, translate a concept of interest into as many languages as you can.

Points for reflection:

  1. Do all languages have a word for this concept? If not, why not?
  2. Is the meaning differ across languages? How so?
  3. What are the different associations or metaphors that come up in different languages?
  4. What does this tell us about languages?


Piece compiled by Anna James and Thomas Macintyre