COMM5713 Collaboration for Social Impact - 2023

Subject Code
Study Level
Commencing Term
Term 3
Total Units of Credit (UOC)
Delivery Mode
T3, 2022
UNSW Business School
This course outline is provided in advance of offering to guide student course selection. Please note that while accurate at time of publication, changes may be required prior to the start of the teaching session. To view other versions, visit the archives .

1. Course Details

Summary of Course

This course is an elective in the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact, Graduate Diploma in Social Impact and the MBAX Social Impact specialisation.  The course may also count as an elective in other MBA programs upon request.

It examines key concepts and frameworks of cross-sector collaboration and develops your understanding of and skill in creating and implementing effective collaborations with partners. Primary topic areas include: cross-sector adaptive leadership, collective impact, building and sustaining strategic partnerships, creative collaborative practice, collaboration dilemmas and tensions, and effective collaboration design and implementation for system change. 

In completing this course, you will gain a deeper understanding of the knowledge and frameworks required to develop and sustain cross-sectoral collaborations to achieve social impact. You will also have the opportunity to develop a range of skills and competencies that can be applied to build collaborative partnerships with government, business, community and the third sector within your workplace.

  • The course is worth 6 units of credit
  • There is no parallel teaching in this course
  • No pre-requisite required
  • No co-requisite required

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.

Seminars will be held online on Thursdays from 7pm-8.30pm in weeks 1, 6 and 9 (Thursday 14th September, Thursday 19th October, and Thursday 9th November).

View course timetable

Course Policies & Support

Course Aims and Relationship to Other Courses

This course aims to develop your understanding of the key concepts and frameworks of system change and collaborative leadership. Students will gain an ability to apply collaborative practices to complex social challenges. You will build these skills through peer learning, case studies, experiential learning and individual investigation of different approaches to achieve system change. Within the experiential component of the course you will be required to reflect on your strengths, challenges and defaults in collaboration and will be challenged in real time through groupwork and course assessments to reflect on your own learning.

Additional Course Details

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. 

3. Staff Contact Details

Position Name Email Location Phone Consultation Times
Course FacilitatorLisa RyanCentre for Social Impact, Level 7 Science Engineering Building (E8), UNSW Kensington
By appointment

Course Authority: Lisa Ryan


Centre for Social Impact, 704, Level 7 Science Engineering Building (E8) (referred to as SEB)

Lisa has been active in social change for the past 25 years, with roles including direct client work (supported accommodation for women with mental illnesses; community mental health social work); population health work (HIV prevention); and system change work (senior policy and funding roles in NSW Health; facilitator and coach in Adaptive Leadership). Lisa has worked extensively across NGOs and the NSW Government sector and is a senior Network Member with Collaboration for Impact, a systems-change, place-based network for impact.

Lisa has been teaching, coaching and facilitating in leadership and collaboration for social change for the past decade, including four years as Course Convenor for Collaboration for Social Impact, and three years on the Design and Delivery Team for the highly-regarded Social Leadership Australia flagship program.  Lisa is passionate about facilitating and coaching in service of providing new insights and new ways of working on complex social issues.

Lisa's approach to Collaboration for Social Impact is informed by her own experience growing up in a community that faced multiple social and economic challenges, and her subsequent career in community development, service delivery and policy making, and deep engagement in both practice-based evidence and evidence-based practice.  Lisa has an excellent track record in working with both place-based and issues-based initiatives to apply the theories and skills taught in this subject, and is strongly committed to building collaborative processes that bring together lived experience, service providers, policy makers and others to develop a shared agenda and shared program of action to make real progress. 

Please direct any CSI education program, enrolment and administration queries here:
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 teaching model is fully online. You are encouraged to develop an inquiry-based approach to your learning, with your teacher guiding your learning. 

The COMM5713 online Moodle site will provide access to multimedia resources and presentations that can provide you with the tools to examine, explore and discuss your learning with your co-participants and teachers. The online resources will set the scene, framework and context for the topics being examined. 

There will be three optional online seminars held across the term.  These will provide an opportunity for peer learning and generative discussion.

Working collaboratively to address complex challenges requires a range of skills, including the ability to critically reflect on your own role in the system, and to identify how your own leadership might need to shift in order to make progress.  

As such, COMM5713 will use a transformational leadership development approach to building the three essential habits of mind for collaboration: (1) asking different questions, (2) taking multiple perspectives, and (3) seeing patterns and systems.  

This approach is embedded into the activities and assessments, each of which will require you to explore both system-level dynamics; and your own mindset, habits and learning limits.  

Learning Activities and Teaching Strategies

In order to maximise the collaborative and experiential nature of this course, a "flipped" learning and teaching approach will be used that will help to support deeper student engagement and outcomes. The "flipped" approach means you do reading and researching independently and use group class time for active and interactive learning. Each topic will include a range of activities that you will complete before and after the topic is offered. Indicative time frames will be provided to support your learning in this way. Extensive use will be made of the course Moodle site.

You have three major resources to help you learn:

  1. The course materials, comprising the topics with readings, references, insights and commentary. You will do much of your learning outside the classroom by working through the course materials, and by completing the exercises as they arise.

  2. Your course facilitator who will share knowledge and facilitate class discussion and peer learning.

  3. Your co-participants, who are an invaluable potential source of learning for you. Their work and life, and their willingness to question and argue with the course materials, the teacher and your views, represent a great learning opportunity. They bring much valuable insight to the learning experience.

Course Structure

Unit 1 - Introduction

In this topic we introduce the key concepts of collaboration, the phases of collective impact and the practice of adaptive leadership and explore what's required to collaborate in complexity.

Unit 2 - Building the conditions

To effectively build the foundations and create conditions for change this topic addresses how to develop a holding environment to develop a shared purpose. This topic prepares the groundwork to convene the system with an understanding of the dynamics that usually occur in systemic collaborations. The Cynefin framework will be introduced as well as considering the distinction between technical and adaptive challenges.

Unit 3 - Diagnosing the system dynamics

This topic begins to explore diagnostic frameworks to enable identification of technical and adaptive challenges. We will explore tools to assess the readiness of systems for change and collaboration, whilst providing a range of frameworks to interpret progress in the system you are working. This topic will be taught as an interactive case-study based in a community context. You will have the opportunity to either, apply diagnostic frameworks in discussions with the stakeholders of a collective impact initiative and engage with key personnel to add to your learning, or do the same through online webinars. We will also draw on the adaptive leadership framework of building leadership at all levels of the system.

Unit 4 - Working with authority and power

In this topic we begin to explore working with (formal and informal) power and authority to lead change. This will include building governance systems that support collaborative change. 

Unit 5 - Working politically

Collaboration for social impact exists within a political context. In this topic we consider the practice of engaging allies, doing business with authority, and working with difference/margins/minorities. This topic's goal is to build a practice of learning from diversity by working strategically. You will learn how to make systemic interpretations based on power, loyalties, competing purposes and build skills on engaging diverse stakeholders in these complex settings.

Unit 6 - Community Engagement

In this Unit we explore community engagement, including what community engagement is, why it is so critical in making progress on complex social (and environmental) issues and how to approach community engagement.  

Unit 7 - Convening the system

In this topic we continue our understanding of how to convene and mobilise diverse stakeholders across a system. We will explore a range of approaches to co-designing and designing dialogue, discuss the building block of effective convening, facilitation principles, skills and processes.

Unit 8 - Skills - working with conflict and asking strategic questions

Developing structures and processes are one part of developing collaboration, but complex challenges also require us to develop skills in bringing people together with vastly different lived experience, connection to and opinions about the issue we are working on. This unit will examine the skills needed to effectively collaborate, with a focus on strategic questioning and working productively with conflict.

Unit 9 - Role theory

This topic explores consider role theory and practice, understand the dominant roles, levers and barriers of collaboration and learn skills to broker difference. Working from role theory gives us new insights into dynamics within collaboration, and to use a systemic rather than personal frame.  This can open up new ways of working, and contribute to innovation and experimentation. 

Unit 10 - Measuring progress & impact & Synthesising learning

This topic explores approaches to measuring progress of collaborative efforts and their impact on the target population. We will look at frameworks for performance management, formative and summative evaluation as well as examples from collaborations around the globe. The final topic in the course provides a learning space to demonstrate your understanding of collaborative practices for social change and apply them to the final assignment. Each group will present their case study to the rest of the course followed by group discussion on the presentations and your learnings.

6. Course Resources

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

Centre for Social Impact (CSI) 

Please direct any CSI education program, enrolment and administration queries here:

Email: Phone: (02) 8936 0990.

Business Student Centre 

The Nucleus: Student Hub, Level 2, in the Main Library. (UNSW map location F21)

Phone: (02) 8936 7005

Moodle eLearning Support

For online help using Moodle, go to:

For technical support, Email:; Phone: (02) 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: (02) 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: (02) 9385 5418; Email:

Equitable Learning Services (formally 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:

7. Course Evaluation & Development

Continual Course Improvement

Each term students are engaged for ongoing feedback and overall feedback on course content and components, teaching staff and delivery approaches. We welcome feedback and encourage students to share openly via the channels below and by discussing directly with the teaching staff and the course authority. Continual improvements are made based on this feedback.

Student Response

The majority of student feedback has been very positive, with students reporting that the theory and skills have enabled them to be more effective collaborators and leaders within their existing roles and existing workplaces.  Students have also identified the following areas for potential improvement:

  • Increased feedback from the course convenor in online Units
  • Revision of the Unit outlines

Response to Student Feedback

The following improvements have been made to the course in response to the student feedback:

  • Mandatory and optional readings have been reduced and re-balanced across the term
  • Increased feedback from the lecturer in online Units
  • Course notes have been revised and streamlined



8. Course Schedule

Week Activity Topic Detail/Engagement Assessment Task
Week 1 Optional Online SeminarUnit 1 - Introduction

Optional Online Seminar Thursday 7pm-8.30pm

Assessment 1 : Participation
Week 2 Reading and online activitiesUnit 2 - Building the Conditions
Week 3 Reading and online activitiesUnit 3 - Diagnosing the system dynamics
Week 4 Reading and online activitiesUnit 4 - Working with authority and power

Census date: Sunday 8 October

Week 5 Reading and online activitiesUnit 5 - Working politically
Week 6 Optional Online SeminarUnit 6 - Community Engagement

Optional Online Seminar 7pm-8.30pm Thursday 19th October

Week 7 Assessment 2 dueUnit 7 - Convening the system

Individual essay due

Assessment 2 : Report
Week 8 Reading and online activitiesUnit 8 - Skills - Working with conflict and asking strategic questions
Week 9 Optional Online SeminarUnit 9 - Role Theory

Optional Online Seminar 7.00pm-8.30pm Thursday 9th November

Week 10 Reading and online activitiesUnit 10 - Measuring progress and impact
Week 11 Assessment 3aNo class

Group report due

Assessment 3 : Part a: Group Report
Week 12 Assessment 3b and 3cNo class

Group presentation (video uploaded to Discussion Forum) & Individual Reflective Report

Assessment 3 : Part b: Group presentation
Assessment 3 : Part c: Individual reflective report

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