Multi-sector partnerships represent a social innovation whereby actors from different sectors intentionally “address social issues and causes that actively engage the partners on an ongoing basis” (Selsky & Parker, 2010:22). They emerge from the recognition that solving today's complex public problems requires engaging multiple stakeholders. While promising, these innovations are not panacea: collaborative work is difficult because of structural and institutional barriers, as well as distinct assumptions, work styles, and disciplinary backgrounds of actors engaged. The course encourages students to understand these barriers and develop the skills and competencies to contribute to bridge the gaps through their professional practice.
Multi-sector partnerships (MSPs) focuses on collaborations across members of the three sectors—government, civil society and business. The course is structured around cycles of student engagement and learning around multi-sector collaboration cases that span geographical contexts and levels of action–domestic, national and global contexts. Through frameworks, practitioner testimonials and social dialogue techniques, students learn relevant frameworks of cross-sector collaboration, explore assumptions of stakeholders from each sector, clarify and challenge their own assumptions and pre-conceptions about each sector, and identify the strengths and gaps they must address to become competent collaborators.