COMM5205 Leading Change for Sustainability - 2020

Blended, Intensive
Term 3
6 Units of Credit
UNSW Business School

Offering Selection
The course outline is not available for current semester. To view outlines from other years and/or semesters, visit the archives .

1. Course Details

Summary of Course

Leading Change for Sustainability is a course designed for future leaders who are passionate about creating positive social and environmental change.  

Your ideas and passion for sustainability and resilience are just the first step. You need skills in leadership, creativity, systems thinking, communication and models for cultural change so that you can influence key decision-makers, build networks and make your idea a reality. You need an awareness of change processes and an understanding of ethics and human rights to lead sustainable change, locally and globally. 

How do you lead cultural change towards a sustainable future for all organisational types? 

How do you pursue social and environmental goals from within a multinational company? 

What are the ethical and human rights implications of cultural change? 

Sustainability has become a key driver in many organisations, from large foundations of investment banks to social enterprises, not-for-profits working with government to provide services, and small to large businesses supporting their local communities. 

This course explores how to create and implement sustainability strategies for different organisational types. We take a broad view of sustainability based on the Sustainable Development Goals, acknowledging the human, social, economic and environmental elements of positive cultural change. 

The course uses in-depth case studies and examines complex aspects of sustainability leadership faced by leaders from business, government and civil society. As a result of the learning strategies drawn upon throughout the course, you will complete the course with a broad understanding of sustainability leadership and be able to strategically identify the keys to initiating and sustaining positive cultural change. 

COMM5205 is approved to run in the MComm, MComm (Ext), MBAx Social Impact Specialisation, Graduate Diploma in Social Impact and Graduate Certificate in Social Impact programs (as listed in the UNSW Handbook).

Please contact the Centre for Social Impact via email ( for more information.

Teaching Times and Locations

Please note that teaching times and locations are subject to change. Students are strongly advised to refer to the Class Timetable website for the most up-to-date teaching times and locations.

COMM5205 Leading Change for Sustainability is scheduled to be taught in a 'blended' intensive mode of delivery in Term 3, 2020. The two intensive weekends of face-to-face (F2F) may need to be shifted to alternative online methods via Moodle if required due to COVID-19.

ONLINE Intensive weekend class 1 (Introductions and Orientations) 

Date: Saturday 19 September 2020 

Time: 9am-11am 

Location: ONLINE 


Intensive classes ON CAMPUS:

Intensive weekend class 2: Dr Alexandra Walker 

Date: Saturday 17 October and Sunday 18 October 2020 

Time: 9am-5pm on both days 

Location: ON CAMPUS (if permitted) 


Intensive weekend class 3: Dr Alexandra Walker 

Date: Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 November 2020 

Time: Saturday 9am-5pm & Sunday 9am-12pm 

Location: ON CAMPUS (if permitted) 

View course timetable

Course Policies & Support

Course Aims and Relationship to Other Courses

This course aims to equip students with core leadership capacities for leading positive social change, which include: communication, conflict transformation, mindfulness, creativity, and moral courage. With a central focus on leadership for sustainability, this course directly addresses the Program Learning Outcomes of leadership development, global and cultural competence and business communication. Students will also be taught an awareness of change processes and an understanding of ethics and human rights to lead sustainable change, locally and globally. The course will use in-depth case studies and examine complex aspects of sustainability leadership faced by leaders from business, government and civil society.

Additonal Course Details

The University and the Business School provide a wide range of support services for students, including:  

Centre for Social Impact (CSI)   

Email: Phone: 02 8936 0990.  

Business Student Centre   

Office: Level 1, Room 1028 in the Quadrangle Building; Phone: 9385 3189.  

Moodle eLearning Support  

For online help using Moodle, go to: For technical support, email:; Phone: 9385 1333.  

UNSW Learning Centre   

Provides academic skills support services, including workshops and resources, for all UNSW students. See website for details.  

Library services and facilities for students  

  IT Service Centre 

Provides technical support to troubleshoot problems with logging into websites, downloading documents, etc. Office: UNSW Library Annexe (Ground floor). Phone: 9385 1333.  

UNSW Counselling and Psychological Services   

Provides support and services if you need help with your personal life, getting your academic life back on track or just want to know how to stay safe, including free, confidential counselling. Office: Level 2, East Wing, Quadrangle Building; Phone: 9385 5418; Email:  

Disability Support Services 

Provides assistance to students who are trying to manage the demands of university as well as a health condition, learning disability or have personal circumstances that are having an impact on their studies.   

Phone: 02 8374 9201; Email: 

Support is available to students for whom English is not their first language through the 'Personalised English Language Enhancement' course (HUMS1005). This course is offered by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences from 2017 - see here: 

3. Staff Contact Details

Position Name Email Location Phone Consultation Times
Course AuthorityAlexandra Walker
By appointment

Course Authority: Dr Alexandra Walker

Dr Ali Walker is a Lecturer at the Centre for Social Impact, UNSW Sydney. Ali works on systems change through wellbeing, leadership and sustainability. 

Ali is the lecturer-in-charge of the postgraduate courses Leading Change for Sustainability and Leadership for Purpose. Ali has worked with organisations such as the Macquarie Bank Foundation, NESA, Kimberly-Clark and the City of Sydney on research projects relating to leadership and sustainability strategy. 

Ali has a PhD in Socio-Legal Studies (group dynamics, gender and international law) from the Australian National University, a Master's degree in International Law and 

International Relations (UNSW Sydney), undergraduate degrees in Arts and Law (with Merit) from UNSW Sydney and a Graduate Diploma in Integral Coaching. 

Ali is the author of Collective Consciousness and Gender (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) and Get Conscious: How to stop overthinking and come alive (Hay House, 2017), and 

was the primary author on The Navigator: Your Guide to Leadership for Social Purpose. Ali presented at TEDx UNSW in September 2018 on 'How to read and lead 

the room' and features regularly on Australian radio (2GB 873am, 2UE 954am and ABC radio national) and television (Channel 7, Lifestyle). 


Location: 704, Level 7 Science Engineering Building (E8) (referred to as SEB) 



Centre for Social Impact Student Administration

Centre for Social Impact Student Team

Phone No: 02 8936 0990



4. Learning and Teaching Activities

Approach to Learning and Teaching in the Course

The overall pedagogical philosophy of this course is based on the belief that learning is an active process requiring engagement and immersion.

Due to the dynamic & reflective nature of leadership this course will be highly interactive and discussion-oriented. It will utilise innovative and varied learning, teaching and assessment strategies designed to apply content to practical examples and case studies.

The course assumes the ability and willingness of students to actively engage in class and to take on a multi-disciplinary approach.

Learning Activities and Teaching Strategies

This course is delivered as a blend of intensive and online learning allowing for immersive learning and teaching strategies. Typically, the course will be a mixture of short lectures, reflections, guest speakers, case studies, discussions and debates.

Course Structure

The course has online modules and intensive classes.

Your punctual attendance at all intensive classes is expected in this course. This means you are required to attend a minimum of 4 out of the 4 scheduled intensive classes. If students do not attend, they may be refused final assessment. Attendance will be taken. For more information, see:

6. Course Resources

Links to all required and optional resources are on the reading list for your course in the UNSW Library's Leganto system, which you can access via your Moodle course. Please note you will need to login, and may be required to enter your UNSW zID and zPass in order to access the library site.

Required readings consist of core texts and their applications. Readings are chosen to provide both theoretical foundation and to illuminate their meaning and usage in professional contexts. The readings are not to be studied in detail, but designed to initiate thinking and understanding of key themes in social systems and change. 

7. Course Evaluation & Development

Continual Course Improvement

Each year feedback is sought from students and other stakeholders about the courses offered in the School and continual improvements are made based on this feedback. In this course, we will seek your feedback through end of semester myExperience responses. Your feedback is important to ensure the course is continually improved.

Student Response


Response to Student Feedback

The student feedback in 2018 was that the assessment structure needed more clarity. In response to this feedback, the assessment details (teams for the group assessment, assessment criteria, and marking guidelines) will now be provided at the beginning of the course so that students have the chance to ask questions and obtain a clear idea of what is expected of them.


8. Course Schedule

Week Activity Topic Detail/Engagement Assessment Task
Week 1 Orientation & Intensive Class 1 : Saturday 19 SeptOnline and on campus Orientation and introduction to course

During the week, become familiar with the moodle site 

Watch the TEDx talk 

Online class 1 Saturday 19 September 9am- 11am.  

Complete self-assessments of leadership and drivers of behaviour. 

Week 2 Weeks 2-6 : Online Module 1What is Leadership?



Module 1.1: Introducing leadership; the difference between leadership & management; trait theories of leadership 

Module 1.2: Skills, behavioural & contingency theories of leadership 

Module 1.3: Transactional vs. transformational theories of leadership, authentic leadership, servant leadership and empathic capacity 

Module 1.4: Adaptive leadership, complexity leadership, shared/collective leadership 

Module 1.5: Organisational culture, groupthink, ethics and language 

Assessment 1 : Multiple Choice/Short Answer Quiz
Week 6 Intensive Weekend Class 1 17-18 October 2020

Compulsory attendance at all intensive classes 


- Guest Speaker 

- Culture change models (change leadership; & change management models and strategies) 

- Collaboration 


- Systems thinking for sustainability  

- Organisational sustainability and resilience  

- Creating a sustainability strategy  

Week 7 Week 6 - 9: Online Module 2 -19 Oct -13 NovThe story of sustainability


- Interviews with industry leaders 

Week 9 Intensive Weekend Class 2 14-15 November 2020

Compulsory attendance at all intensive classes 


Reflect: what kind of leader are you? (cont.) 

- What is your conflict style? 

- What is your communication style? 

- What is your leadership range?  

- How to have difficult conversations, exercise moral courage and work with ethics. 

- Simulation preparation and training 

- Mindfulness, consciousness & creativity as leadership strategies 

- Teamwork to prepare for the Simulation 


* Leadership simulations and sustainability communications

Week 11 Online Module 3 16-27 November 2020

Wrap-up/bringing it all together

Interviews with industry leaders


Assessment 2 : Leadership Simulation

9. Policies and Support

Information about UNSW Business School protocols, University policies, student responsibilities and education quality and support.

Program Learning Outcomes

The Business School places knowledge and capabilities at the core of its curriculum via seven Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs). These PLOs are systematically embedded and developed across the duration of all coursework programs in the Business School.

PLOs embody the knowledge, skills and capabilities that are taught, practised and assessed within each Business School program. They articulate what you should know and be able to do upon successful completion of your degree.

Upon graduation, you should have a high level of specialised business knowledge and capacity for responsible business thinking, underpinned by ethical professional practice. You should be able to harness, manage and communicate business information effectively and work collaboratively with others. You should be an experienced problem-solver and critical thinker, with a global perspective, cultural competence and the potential for innovative leadership.

All UNSW programs and courses are designed to assess the attainment of program and/or course level learning outcomes, as required by the UNSW Assessment Design Procedure. It is important that you become familiar with the Business School PLOs, as they constitute the framework which informs and shapes the components and assessments of the courses within your program of study.

PLO 1: Business knowledge

Students will make informed and effective selection and application of knowledge in a discipline or profession, in the contexts of local and global business.

PLO 2: Problem solving

Students will define and address business problems, and propose effective evidence-based solutions, through the application of rigorous analysis and critical thinking.

PLO 3: Business communication

Students will harness, manage and communicate business information effectively using multiple forms of communication across different channels.

PLO 4: Teamwork

Students will interact and collaborate effectively with others to achieve a common business purpose or fulfil a common business project, and reflect critically on the process and the outcomes.

PLO 5: Responsible business practice

Students will develop and be committed to responsible business thinking and approaches, which are underpinned by ethical professional practice and sustainability considerations.

PLO 6: Global and cultural competence

Students will be aware of business systems in the wider world and actively committed to recognise and respect the cultural norms, beliefs and values of others, and will apply this knowledge to interact, communicate and work effectively in diverse environments.

PLO 7: Leadership development

Students will develop the capacity to take initiative, encourage forward thinking and bring about innovation, while effectively influencing others to achieve desired results.

These PLOs relate to undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs.  Separate PLOs for honours and postgraduate research programs are included under 'Related Documents'.

Business School course outlines provide detailed information for students on how the course learning outcomes, learning activities, and assessment/s contribute to the development of Program Learning Outcomes.



UNSW Graduate Capabilities

The Business School PLOs also incorporate UNSW graduate capabilities, a set of generic abilities and skills that all students are expected to achieve by graduation. These capabilities articulate the University’s institutional values, as well as future employer expectations.

UNSW Graduate CapabilitiesBusiness School PLOs
Scholars capable of independent and collaborative enquiry, rigorous in their analysis, critique and reflection, and able to innovate by applying their knowledge and skills to the solution of novel as well as routine problems.
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 7: Leadership development

Entrepreneurial leaders capable of initiating and embracing innovation and change, as well as engaging and enabling others to contribute to change
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence
  • PLO 7: Leadership development

Professionals capable of ethical, self-directed practice and independent lifelong learning
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice

Global citizens who are culturally adept and capable of respecting diversity and acting in a socially just and responsible way.
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence

While our programs are designed to provide coverage of all PLOs and graduate capabilities, they also provide you with a great deal of choice and flexibility.  The Business School strongly advises you to choose a range of courses that assist your development against the seven PLOs and four graduate capabilities, and to keep a record of your achievements as part of your portfolio. You can use a portfolio as evidence in employment applications as well as a reference for work or further study. For support with selecting your courses contact the UNSW Business School Student Centre.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

Academic Integrity is honest and responsible scholarship. This form of ethical scholarship is highly valued at UNSW. Terms like Academic Integrity, misconduct, referencing, conventions, plagiarism, academic practices, citations and evidence based learning are all considered basic concepts that successful university students understand. Learning how to communicate original ideas, refer sources, work independently, and report results accurately and honestly are skills that you will be able to carry beyond your studies.

The definition of academic misconduct is broad. It covers practices such as cheating, copying and using another person’s work without appropriate acknowledgement. Incidents of academic misconduct may have serious consequences for students.


UNSW regards plagiarism as a form of academic misconduct. UNSW has very strict rules regarding plagiarism. Plagiarism at UNSW is using the words or ideas of others and passing them off as your own. All Schools in the Business School have a Student Ethics Officer who will investigate incidents of plagiarism and may result in a student’s name being placed on the Plagiarism and Student Misconduct Registers.

Below are examples of plagiarism including self-plagiarism:

Copying: Using the same or very similar words to the original text or idea without acknowledging the source or using quotation marks. This includes copying materials, ideas or concepts from a book, article, report or other written document, presentation, composition, artwork, design, drawing, circuitry, computer program or software, website, internet, other electronic resource, or another person's assignment, without appropriate acknowledgement of authorship.

Inappropriate Paraphrasing: Changing a few words and phrases while mostly retaining the original structure and/or progression of ideas of the original, and information without acknowledgement. This also applies in presentations where someone paraphrases another’s ideas or words without credit and to piecing together quotes and paraphrases into a new whole, without appropriate referencing.

Collusion: Presenting work as independent work when it has been produced in whole or part in collusion with other people. Collusion includes:

  • Students providing their work to another student before the due date, or for the purpose of them plagiarising at any time
  • Paying another person to perform an academic task and passing it off as your own
  • Stealing or acquiring another person’s academic work and copying it
  • Offering to complete another person’s work or seeking payment for completing academic work

Collusion should not be confused with academic collaboration (i.e., shared contribution towards a group task).

Inappropriate Citation: Citing sources which have not been read, without acknowledging the 'secondary' source from which knowledge of them has been obtained.

Self-Plagiarism: ‘Self-plagiarism’ occurs where an author republishes their own previously written work and presents it as new findings without referencing the earlier work, either in its entirety or partially. Self-plagiarism is also referred to as 'recycling', 'duplication', or 'multiple submissions of research findings' without disclosure. In the student context, self-plagiarism includes re-using parts of, or all of, a body of work that has already been submitted for assessment without proper citation.

To see if you understand plagiarism, do this short quiz:


The University also regards cheating as a form of academic misconduct. Cheating is knowingly submitting the work of others as their own and includes contract cheating (work produced by an external agent or third party that is submitted under the pretences of being a student’s original piece of work). Cheating is not acceptable at UNSW.

If you need to revise or clarify any terms associated with academic integrity you should explore the 'Working with Academic Integrity' self-paced lessons available at:

For UNSW policies, penalties, and information to help you avoid plagiarism see: as well as the guidelines in the online ELISE tutorials for all new UNSW students: For information on student conduct see:

For information on how to acknowledge your sources and reference correctly, see: If you are unsure what referencing style to use in this course, you should ask the lecturer in charge.

Student Responsibilities and Conduct

​Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to university policies in relation to class attendance and general conduct and behaviour, including maintaining a safe, respectful environment; and to understand their obligations in relation to workload, assessment and keeping informed.

Information and policies on these topics can be found on the 'Managing your Program' website.


It is expected that you will spend at least ten to twelve hours per week studying for a course except for Summer Term courses which have a minimum weekly workload of twenty to twenty four hours. This time should be made up of reading, research, working on exercises and problems, online activities and attending classes. In periods where you need to complete assignments or prepare for examinations, the workload may be greater. Over-commitment has been a cause of failure for many students. You should take the required workload into account when planning how to balance study with employment and other activities.

We strongly encourage you to connect with your Moodle course websites in the first week of semester. Local and international research indicates that students who engage early and often with their course website are more likely to pass their course.

View more information on expected workload


Your regular and punctual attendance at lectures and seminars or in online learning activities is expected in this course. The Business School reserves the right to refuse final assessment to those students who attend less than 80% of scheduled classes where attendance and participation is required as part of the learning process (e.g., tutorials, flipped classroom sessions, seminars, labs, etc.).

View more information on attendance

General Conduct and Behaviour

You are expected to conduct yourself with consideration and respect for the needs of your fellow students and teaching staff. Conduct which unduly disrupts or interferes with a class, such as ringing or talking on mobile phones, is not acceptable and students may be asked to leave the class.

View more information on student conduct

Health and Safety

UNSW Policy requires each person to work safely and responsibly, in order to avoid personal injury and to protect the safety of others.

View more information on Health and Safety

Keeping Informed

You should take note of all announcements made in lectures, tutorials or on the course web site. From time to time, the University will send important announcements to your university e-mail address without providing you with a paper copy. You will be deemed to have received this information. It is also your responsibility to keep the University informed of all changes to your contact details.

Student Support and Resources

​The University and the Business School provide a wide range of support services and resources for students, including:

Business School EQS Consultation Program
The Consultation Program offers academic writing, literacy and numeracy consultations, study skills, exam preparation for Business students. Services include workshops, online resources, individual and group consultations. 
Level 1, Room 1035, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 4508

Communication Resources
The Business School Communication and Academic Support programs provide online modules, communication workshops and additional online resources to assist you in developing your academic writing.

Business School Student Centre
The Business School Student Centre provides advice and direction on all aspects of admission, enrolment and graduation.
Level 1, Room 1028 in the Quadrangle Building
02 9385 3189

UNSW Learning & Careers Hub
The UNSW Learning & Careers Hub provides academic skills and careers support services—including workshops, individual consultations and a range of online resources—for all UNSW students. See their website for details.
Lower Ground Floor, North Wing Chancellery Building.
02 9385 2060

Student Support Advisors
Student Support Advisors work with all students to promote the development of skills needed to succeed at university, whilst also providing personal support throughout the process.
John Goodsell Building, Ground Floor.
02 9385 4734

International Student Support
The International Student Experience Unit (ISEU) is the first point of contact for international students. ISEU staff are always here to help with personalised advice and information about all aspects of university life and life in Australia.
Advisors can support you with your student visa, health and wellbeing, making friends, accommodation and academic performance.
02 9385 4734

Equitable Learning Services
Equitable Learning Services (formerly Disability Support Services) is a free and confidential service that provides practical support to ensure that your health condition doesn't adversely affect your studies. Register with the service to receive educational adjustments.
Ground Floor, John Goodsell Building.
02 9385 4734

UNSW Counselling and Psychological Services
Provides support and services if you need help with your personal life, getting your academic life back on track or just want to know how to stay safe, including free, confidential counselling.
Level 2, East Wing, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 5418

Library services and facilities for students
The UNSW Library offers a range of collections, services and facilities both on-campus and online.
Main Library, F21.
02 9385 2650

Moodle eLearning Support
Moodle is the University’s learning management system. You should ensure that you log into Moodle regularly.
02 9385 3331

UNSW IT provides support and services for students such as password access, email services, wireless services and technical support.
UNSW Library Annexe (Ground floor).
02 9385 1333

Search Degrees

Find a degree or course