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Warm-up Questions for Ecological Mindsets

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This method aims to set the tone of the event and connect people to the larger theme of the workshop. Additionally, it can help establish trust and connection in small groups.


Warm-up questions can be answered individually, in pairs, or as a group in this activity. Effective warm-up questions help participants connect to the larger purpose or theme of the workshop and/or the upcoming activities. For example, if the workshop is about evoking more-than-human perspectives, a warm-up question could be: “Name an animal that you feel connected to and one word that comes to mind when you think of that animal”. Or if it is about change agency, an example could be: “Name an environmental hero you admire, it can be someone famous or a person from your daily life”. To make the exercise more creative, you can ask people to share an intuitive association: (e.g. “Say the first word that comes to mind when I say ‘river’”).

Variation: Mingling‍

Invite people to move around the room and ask the warm-up question to 1-3 people they don’t know. The master facilitator gives each duo 1-2 minutes per duo. This facilitates physical movement and networking. It can be done in plenary or at coffee breaks at any point in the event.‍


  1. Explain the purpose of the warm-up question;
  2. Ask the question and request that people answer in pairs or around the circle in their small group;
  3. (optional) Answers can be written down on sticky notes and posted on the wall, or written on a central paper or used in combination with Hand Stencil Mandala

Place on U
3-5 minutes
Materials Needed

If answers are written down: sticky notes/paper and tape, pens.

Care & Empathy
Cognitive Frames & Mental Models
Online Engagement
Tip and Experiences
  • Use language that is spacious and less restrictive. For example, rather than asking “what is your favourite animal”, ask “what is an animal that you feel connected to”. Instead of “share your happiest memory of being in the forest”, ask “share a happy memory of being in the forest”;
  • Displaying answers in a visible location (e.g. on the wall) can keep the energy of the answer in the room as the workshop proceeds.

Relevant References & Resources

Social Priming: Molden (2014). Understanding Priming Effects in Social Psychology: What is “Social Priming” and How Does It Occur?

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