Singapore University of Social Sciences

Civil Society, Leadership and Capacity Building

Civil Society, Leadership and Capacity Building (CSD521)


CSD521 enables students to develop conceptual understanding of issues and processes in civil society, the “third sector”, as well as practical skills in leadership development in civil society. The discussion will focus on state-society relations, why and how citizens organise, different types of NGOs and networks in domestic and international contexts, and the opportunities for partnerships across the civil, public and private private sectors. Old and new media, and the use of virtual spaces will be examined as evolving sites and modalities for civil engagement. The course will examine issues of leadership development in civil society, and how this impacts all sectors. Multi-country case studies will be used for illustrations. Students will have the opportunity to build on their existing knowledge and experiences of civil society processes.

Level: 5
Credit Units: 5
Presentation Pattern: EVERY JAN


  • What is “civil society”?
  • Why do citizens organize?
  • How do citizens organize?
  • Civil society actors and networks
  • Policies, laws and the development of civil society
  • Old media: communication, power and politics in the public sphere
  • New media: communication, power and politics in the public sphere
  • The roles, responsibilities and touchpoints of the civil, public and private sectors
  • Leadership in Civil Society: opportunities for influence, leadership needs, the power of advocacy
  • Capacity building for Civil Society
  • Capacity building for Leadership Development
  • Comparing Civil Society in Singapore with civil society in other countries

Learning Outcome

  • Evaluate key issues and processes related to the development of civil society.
  • Assess the opportunities and challenges for effective leadership in civil society.
  • Compare different types of civil society actors and their impact on civil society and the public and private sectors.
  • Analyze the potential, influence and limitations of old and new media.
  • Discuss the development of civil society, the policies and laws relevant to the advancement of the social sector
  • Assess the current state of civil society organisations in local contexts vis-à-vis other country contexts
  • Propose different methods for partnership, effectiveness and advocacy by civil society actors
  • Recommend appropriate methods of capacity building for civil society actors.
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