To guide your actions and stimulate conversation, we have put together a glossary of some of the terms that come up in our various workshops.


The transfer of goods, services and money between any entities such as nations, commercial banks, international agencies or non-governmental agencies. Aid is a highly generalized term, covering both grants and loans


The policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social/environmental change

Alternative Media

Media of any form that typically expresses the views of the political left


To abstain from purchasing, using, or dealing with a particular good, service, or group; in protest to ideas, values, or beliefs


In Economics, capital traditionally refers to factories, machinery and equipment. More recently, it is also used in the context of financial assets, such as stocks and bonds (more accurately referred to as “financial capital”)

Climate change

Any change in global temperatures and precipitation over time due to natural variability or to human

Climate justice

Climate justice explores the ethical dimensions of Climate Change including human rights and demographic issues


The act of possessing a colony where a country is in partial or full control over another country

Commodity Chain

A process where firms/businesses secure resources, transform them into usable goods, manufacture goods, and distribute them for retail consumption. This chain tracks how a good travels from producers to consumers

Comparative Advantage

The notion that because of different cultural, geographical and historical circumstances, some nations are more efficient in the production of certain goods. This concept underlies the justification of free trade


An individual who purchases goods or services for personal or group use


A form of business organization where the firm has a legal existence separate from that of its owners. Corporations can be privately owned or publicly traded


The accumulated deficits of a government which is the principle amount owed to domestic and international creditors (the people who lend the government money)


The action of changing from colonial to independent status

Democratic Control

Associated with smallholder farmers who want input on agricultural policies on all levels of policy making


The removal of laws and regulations that govern corporations, public utilities and industries in order to facilitate the free flow of trade


The act of employing someone or something to its/their greatest possible advantage


The quality of being fair and impartial: “equity of treatment”

Fair Trade

A trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the Global South. Fair trade organizations, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade (definition by FINE, an informal network of the four Fair Trade Organisations)


The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men

Food Security

Food security exists when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life

Food Sovereignty

Food Sovereignty is the right of people to healthy and culturally appropriate food that is produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, as well as the right of people to define their own food and agriculture systems

Food System

A collaborative network that integrates sustainable food production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste management

Fraser Institute

A BC-based right-wing/neoliberal think tank that produces literature and holds seminars on economic, environmental and social policy issues

Free Trade

Trade arrangements where tariffs or other barriers to the free flow of goods and services are eliminated


The socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society thinks appropriate for men and women

GDP (Gross Domestic Product)

The generally accepted measure of economic performance. The total of goods and services produced in a country

Global warming

A gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, CFCs, and other pollutants


A genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically engineered organism (GEO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered

Health Care

The maintenance and improvement of physical and mental health, esp. through the provision of medical services


Heteronormativity is a term for a set of lifestyle norms that hold that people fall into distinct and complementary genders (male and female) with natural roles in life


Defines a condition where a person or group of people have no permanent, safe, home. This term is often used to describe the homeless on the street but is not limited to this state of living only


An extreme and irrational aversion to homosexuality and homosexual people


ILO (International Labour Organization)

A United Nations agency that promotes internationally-recognized human and labour rights through governments, labour and employers. Unique in the UN system.

IMF (The International Monetary Fund)

Created as a central pillar of the post-WWII global economy to coordinate the international monetary system. It provides emergency loans to countries that find themselves unable to meet current international payments, in exchange for the imposition of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs).

Income Inequality

Income inequality is caused by the disparities in the distribution of economic assets and wealth. This term can be used to describe the inequality between individuals, groups of people, or countries.

Independent Media

Any form of media that is free from government or corporate influence/control

Intellectual Property Rights

The privatization of knowledge and ideas, including rights to inventions and discoveries in such areas as patents for new drugs, trademarks, and seeds as well as the ownership of ideas, indigenous traditions, and genetic information.

Living Wage

A wage that is high enough to maintain a normal standard of living. Living wage may differ from region to region

Majority World

Another term for countries commonly referred to as “Third World,” “Developing,” or the “Global South;” considered a more accurate and politically correct word

Media Awareness

Applying a critical lens to available media that one is exposed to. This facilitates the analysis of themes, ideas, and values that the media presents


A federal system of health care that provides health insurance for all citizens

Minimum wage

The lowest wage permitted by law or by a special agreement (such as one with a labor union)


Exclusive control of one group over the means of producing and selling a good or set of goods


A right-wing paradigm of thought based on the free market, deregulation, and opposition to state intervention in the economy. Also based on the belief that economic and corporate globalization are inevitable

OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)

A Paris-based research organization providing the world’s richest 29 countries, including Canada, with information and advice about economic policy

Privatized Health Care

Provides an alternative to government run health care, where individuals independently pay for health care services


A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to one person or group of people. In social justice, this often describes specific groups that appear to have privilege based on  gender, socio-economic class, and/or race.

Race to the Bottom

A socio-economic concept where countries race to bottom due to regulatory competition. The idea that if one country deregulates in areas such as the environment or human rights, other countries will compete to further deregulate


Government refusal to import goods from a country it is protesting/boycotting. Used to punish members of a free trade area for violating trading agreements


Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, on the basis of sex

Social justice

Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating an egalitarian society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being

Social Media

Media that uses highly accessible publishing techniques on the internet to transform and broadcast public dialogue and messaging

Social Welfare

A set of services and funds provided by the Government to provide economic assistance to persons in need


A factory or workplace where workers are employed at low wages for long hours and often in hazardous environments

TNC (Transnational Corporation)

A corporation with economic activities and operations in two or more nations. Also known as multinational corporation (MNC).

Universal Health Care

A health care system that is organized to provide consistent coverage to all members of society

World Bank

Originally known as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Set up after WWII to facilitate the reconstruction of European economies that had been devastated by the war. In later years, it took on the role of providing loans to Majority World countries for the purposes of economic development. The World Bank is a sister organization to the IMF – both of which are based in Washington, DC

Worker’s Rights

A set of legal rights and human rights that regulate labour relations between an employer and and employee

Worker’s Unions

Workers unite to form a group that serves the interests of its members in regards to wages, benefits, working conditions etc

WTO (World Trade Organization)

A Geneva-based free trade association with 140 member nations. Formed in 1995 to administer the GATT as well as oversee trading in services and intellectual property. WTO secret panels rule on trade disputes among member nations.