COMM5713 Collaboration for Social Impact - 2019

Online, Kensington
Term 3
6 Units of Credit
UNSW Business School

Offering Selection
This course outline is for the current semester. To view outlines from other years and/or semesters, visit the archives

1. Course Details

Summary of Course

This course is an elective in both the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact and the MBAX (Social Impact). It examines key concepts and frameworks of cross-sector collaboration and develops your capacities to undertake effective collaboration with existing and emerging partners. Primary topic areas include: cross-sector adaptive leadership, 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.

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.

The course is delivered online over 12 weeks from Monday 16 September until Sunday 15 December 2019. No face-to-face attendance is required. Students are expected to be online in O week (commencing 11 September 2019).  

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 a worksite visit working in situ with change agents leading collaborative change or through access to equivalent online multimedia resources, case study, experiential learning and individual investigation of different approaches to achieve system change.

Additonal Course Details

3. Staff Contact Details

Position Name Email Location Phone Consultation Times
Course FacilitatorLisa Ryan
0419 228 180By appointment

Course Facilitator: Lisa Ryan

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's previous role to her current consultancy work was Manager, Harm Reduction and Viral Hepatitis Branch, NSW Health. Lisa has been teaching, coaching and facilitating in Adaptive Leadership for the past six years, including teaching and coaching for the intensive Sydney Leadership program and developing customised programs for delivery within specific organisations.

Lisa is an Associate of Collaboration for Impact. She has an excellent understanding of and experience working with the Collective Impact framework, and a range of skills to support communities to collaborate for progress. Her work in Collective Impact builds on long-standing knowledge and experience in community development and results-based accountability. Lisa has strong skills in building a culture and environment to support collaboration within communities and systems; helping clients set shared agendas in ways which generates clarity, energy and action, and translating that shared agenda into a program of (technical and adaptive) work. Lisa has been a guest facilitator and speaker at the last three Collaboration for Impact conferences held in Australia.

Course Collaborator: Liz Skelton

Liz is a Director of Collaboration for Impact.  She is committed to achieving social change for a better world and is renowned in Australia for her work and expertise as a leader, consultant, author and teacher of leadership for social and adaptive system change. Liz is the co-founder of Collaboration for Impact (CFI) and has spent the last two years working exclusively on the establishment of Australia's leading learning organisation. CFI builds capacity in collective impact, adaptive leadership for social change, systems change and social innovation.  Liz brings unique experience, skills and knowledge in leadership development to building collaborations to enable cross sector stakeholders to change the way their systems work to create positive social change.  With 25 years experience leading social change, Liz began her career leading NGOS's in Scotland and Australia before co-leading the establishment and growth of a national social leadership learning organisation Social Leadership Australia. She spent eight years working with leaders in community, government and businesses across Australia developing the theory and applying the practice of Adaptive Leadership to tackle their toughest challenges.  Additionally, Liz is an author and teacher of leadership for systems change, and has co-authored two books: "The Australian Leadership Paradox: What it takes to lead in the Lucky Country", with Geoff Aigner, published by Allen & Unwin in 2013, and "Lost conversations: Finding new ways for black and white Australians to lead together" launched in November 2014 co-authored with a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders

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.

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, 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 discussion time for active and interactive learning. Each unit (topic) will include a range of activities that you will complete before and after the unit is offered. You have three major resources to help you learn:


  1. The course materials, comprising readings, references, insights and commentary for each unit. You will do much of your learning independently by working through the course materials, and by completing the learning activities, and collaboratively through online discussions and webinars.
  1. Your facilitator's role is to guide your learning by conducting class discussions, answering questions that might arise after you have done the week's work, providing insights from practical experience and understanding of theory, providing you with feedback on your assessments, and directing discussions that will occur between you and your co-participants.


  1. Your co-participants are an invaluable source of rich learning content for you. Their work and life, and their willingness to question and debate the course materials, your views and those of the facilitator, represent a great learning opportunity. They bring much valuable insight to the learning.

Course Structure

Unit 1 - Introduction

In this unit 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 unit addresses how to develop a holding environment to develop a shared purpose. This unit 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 and the distinction between technical and adaptive challenges will be considered.

Unit 3 - Diagnosing the system dynamics

This unit 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, while providing a range of frameworks to interpret progress in the system in which you are working. This unit will be taught as an interactive case study based in the community of Mount Druitt. You will have the opportunity to either apply diagnostic frameworks informed by the perspectives of various stakeholders of a collective impact initiative 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 unit we begin to explore building formal and informal authority to lead change; and we consider the role of teachers/backbone and the practice of neutrality. This unit will explore a case study on building a collaborative environment. You will have the opportunity to apply diagnostic frameworks with the stakeholders of a collective impact initiative and engage with speakers (online) to add to your learning. Personal, social and positional power and authority are considered.

Unit 5 - Working politically

Collaboration for social impact exists within a political context. In this unit we consider the practice of engaging allies, doing business with authority, and working with difference/margins/minorities. This unit'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 and competing purposes, and build skills to engage diverse stakeholders in these complex settings.

Unit 6 - Building a learning culture

In this unit we explore how to build a learning culture. This will include strategic thinking on: community engagement approaches; learning from all parts of the system; collecting data and building a narrative of change. We will draw on current theories and frameworks work in relation to community engagement and how we use data to support engagement.

Unit 7 - Convening the system

In this unit 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, and discuss the building blocks of effective convening, facilitation principles, skills and processes.

Unit 8 - Skills to work with the whole system

Developing structures and processes are one part of developing collaboration. Core skills are required to build and sustain collaborations, which take us into the inter-personal territory. This unit will be highly experiential and will focus on core collaborative practices of working with dissent and conflict. Building self and systemic awareness, you will deepen your awareness of your personal collaborative leadership challenge and learn strategies and mindsets to build strategic options. Theory U (Otto Scharmer) and Appreciative Inquiry (Cooperrider et al) form part of this conversation.

Unit 9 - Shared purpose

A shared purpose is needed in social collaborative contexts. This unit considers a range of approaches to developing shared purpose, including Chrislip's principles for working together. We will also consider the design process of interventions to help achieve the agreed outcomes and will engage in a number of scenario planning activities.

Unit 10 - Getting alignment

This unit brings together key aspects involved in collaborating across diverse interests in complexity, and considers the inter-personal skills required to broker difference and work with power. We consider role theory and practice, understand the dominant roles, levers and barriers of collaboration and learn skills to broker difference. These components of alignment lead to building a learning culture that enables innovation and experimentation.

Unit 11 - Measuring progress and impact

This unit 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 and examples from collaborations around the globe.

Unit 12 - Synthesising learning

The final unit in the course provides a learning space to demonstrate your understanding of collaborative practices for social change and apply them to the final assessment. Each group will present their case study to the rest of the class, followed by group discussion on the presentations and your learnings.

6. Course Resources

The website for this course is on Moodle at:

Login to Moodle with your student zID (username) and zPass (password).

If you encounter a technical problem while using Moodle, please contact the UNSW IT Service Desk via the following channels:


Email: Telephone: +61 (2) 9385 1333

Phone and email support is available Monday to Friday 8am - 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am - 2pm. Online service requests can be made via their website.


There are no prescribed textbooks for this course. Each topic will have mandatory and optional readings. Links to all of these 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.

If you experience any problems in accessing the readings, please try the following:

  • Search directly for the article on the UNSW Library home page ( by placing the name of the article in the Search box.

  • Search directly for the book excerpt on the UNSW Library home page ( by placing your course code into the Search box. When you do this all the course readings that are excerpts from books will appear.

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. UNSW's MyExperience evaluation process is one of the ways in which student evaluative feedback is gathered. 

Student Response

Overall, student responses were positive, with participants either agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement that overall they were satisfied with the course. The subject also performed favourably against measures such as - students felt part of a learning community; the assessment tasks were relevant; and the course stimulated interest in the subject area.

In the free text, students commented positively on the opportunities for self reflection; and the manner in which in-class discussions were facilitated to enable peer learning.

Areas for potential improvement noted by students were as follows:

  • improve the course notes to minimise cross-referencing when completing assignments
  • consider reducing the complexity of the assessment task/s
  • more active facilitator presence during the on-line Units

Response to Student Feedback

 As a result of this feedback:

  • those components of the course that are working well will continued to be delivered and monitored
  • the format of course notes will be reviewed to maximise utility to students
  • in the mixed face to face/online modality, there will be increased facilitator feedback on the Moodle discussions each week

8. Course Schedule

Week Activity Topic Detail/Engagement Assessment Task
Week 1 Online via Moodle, Assessment 1Topic 1 - Introduction

Participation - throughout the semester

Assessment 1 : Participation
Week 2 Online via MoodleTopic 2 - Building the conditions
Week 3 Online via Moodle Topic 3 - Diagnosing the system dynamics
Week 4 Online via Moodle, Formative feedback Topic 4 - Working with authority and power

Formative feedback given on online participation weeks 1-4

Week 5 Online via MoodleTopic 5 - Working politically
Week 6 Online via MoodleUnit 6 - Building a learning culture
Week 7 Online via Moodle, Assessment 2 dueUnit 7 - Convening the system

Assessment 2, Individual Essay, due on Wednesday 30 October 11.59pm

Assessment 2 : Essay
Week 8 Online via MoodleUnit 8 - Skills to work with the whole system
Week 9 Online via MoodleUnit 9 - Shared purpose
Week 10 Online via MoodleUnit 10 - Getting alignment
Week 11 Online via Moodle, Assessment 3a dueUnit 11 - Measuring progress and impact

Assessment 3a, Group Report, due on Wednesday 27 November 11.59pm

Assessment 3 : Part a: Group report
Week 12 Online via MoodleUnit 12 - Synthesising learning
Week 13 Assessment 3b & 3c due

Assessment 3b, Group Presentation (video uploaded to Discussion Forum) due on Wednesday 11 December 11.59pm

Assessment 3c, Individual Report, due on Friday 13 December 11.59pm

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

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 Centre
The UNSW Learning Centre provides academic skills support services, including workshops and resources, for all UNSW students. See their website for details.
Lower Ground Floor, North Wing Chancellery Building.
02 9385 2060

Educational Support Service
Educational 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. Check their website to request an appointment or to register in the Academic Success Program.
John Goodsell Building, Ground Floor.
02 9385 4734

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

Disability Support Services
UNSW 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 who have personal circumstances that are having an impact on their studies. Disability Advisers can arrange to put in place services and educational adjustments to make things more manageable so that students are able to complete their course requirements. To receive educational adjustments for disability support, students must first register with Disability Services.
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

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