This unit of study critiques key developments and debates about civil society, its history and evolving roles and functions in international community development. Students examine civil society's relationships with other actors, including other civil society organisations (CSOs), governments, international institutions and the private sector. They will critically assess the relationships between civil society in developed and developing countries, including in relation to supporting capacity building of Indigenous civil society to mobilise communities to claim rights, hold governments and authorities to account, connect communities and representatives, and plan and implement community development initiatives. Students interrogate the concept of capacity development and its relationship to processes of self-determination, democratisation and state development and consider the appropriateness and sustainability of capacity development strategies. Case studies are used to provide real world illustrations of key issues and tensions.

Unit details

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Successful completion of 2 units of the course.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Critically examine key development and civil society theories in terms contributing to a more resilient community, and a more equitable and sustainable world;  
  2. Conceptually map the links between public policies, government and civil society organisations in building capacity;  
  3. Debate the competing conceptions of civil society and deconstruct its roles and functions in international community development; and  
  4. Theorise and transform thinking about key concepts, issues and debates in relation to capacity building in international community development contexts.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Journal Responses to issues explored in first 4 sessions. 15%
Review Review of an event, campaign or, field activity in a digital media format with an explanatory note. 40%
Essay A critical essay answering a specific question supported by case studies. 45%

Where to next?

As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following courses. Refer to the course page for information on how to apply for the course.

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