In January next year, Singapore Management University (SMU) will launch its Master of Tri-Sector Collaboration programme, underscoring the growing importance of tri-sectoral partnerships, between business, Government and civil society, in tackling growing global challenges.

The first of its kind, the new Masters programme seeks to equip mid-career professionals from business, Government and civil society with skills and knowledge that can help them work effectively with other sectors.

Explaining the importance of the programme, Academic Director for the Master of Tri-Sector Collaboration programme, Professor Ann Florini, said: “To succeed in either business or public policy, practitioners need to understand the risks and opportunities in the dynamic and co-evolving relationship between Governments, the private sector and society.

“Professionals in all three sectors find themselves called upon to work together, but without the necessary interdisciplinary knowledge and tools to make such collaborations widely successful. As a result, only few businesses or Governments have demonstrated the leadership necessary to effectively respond to today’s new global pressures.”

She added that stakeholders from all sectors are increasingly beginning to understand the importance of multi-sectoral partnerships.

“Governments want to have regional exposure beyond purely national training and to learn how to work effectively with business and with civil society. Singapore government officials, for example, increasingly say they need to work with other sectors.

“We are also seeing civil society groups such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working effectively alongside the private sector and Governments on campaigns to tackle pressing global issues, including health and nutrition, education and environment,” she said.

Professor Florini informed that the Master of Tri-Sector Collaboration targets the growing intersection of Government, business and civil society, and aims to provide cross-disciplinary education focused on collective problem-solving for areas of concern to all three sectors.

“The curriculum will focus specifically on bringing about large-scale change through partnerships and will provide rigorous skills training and content – for instance, identifying the big problems and using relevant skills and tools to develop sustainable solutions. Modules for the programme will also cover topics such as how the three sectors think, global trends and futures and scenarios methodologies,” she added.

FIA Policy Director, Melanie Vilarasau Slade, said it is fantastic to see such courses being introduced in the region, particularly with the increasing importance of public-private partnerships today.

“The private sector, including businesses in the food industry, has a critical role to play in tackling global issues such as food safety and the challenge posed by non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

The private sector also has a key role to play in supporting economic growth. In ASEAN, through the work of the ASEAN Food and Beverage Alliance (AFBA), the food industry is able to provide valuable support for the region’s ambitious targets for regional integration to the benefit of intra-and-extra regional trade, in partnership with the public sector.

“It is therefore vital to ensure that leaders in the public and private sectors are able to engage effectively with one another, and courses such as the one offered by SMU provide the basis for this to occur even more effectively in future,” Ms Vilarasau Slade said.

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