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From conflict to collaboration

From conflict to collaboration

Centre of Social Excellence

In the best of circumstances, when companies establish new agriculture, forestry or extractives ventures in developing countries, the people living there can see enormous benefits – increasing incomes, improved local infrastructure, greater access to services, and more.

Unfortunately, these operations often lead to serious conflicts with local communities or workers, creating significant hardship for everyone involved. There is a serious lack of trained social professionals from the regions where the companies operate to help them integrate social impacts and engagement into their operations.

The Centre of Social Excellence (CSE) is a unique educational Earthworm initiative focused on cultivating the skills and capacities of social practitioners. CSE trains recent graduates and professionals to implement good social management techniques.

Focusing on under-served geographies with a higher risk of social conflict, CSE's goal is to cultivate local expertise in building and embedding holistic social management programmes into company, government and NGO operations.


A 2008 Goldman Sachs study of 190 companies cited political and stakeholder-related issues as the number one cause of project delays.
Over 300 people from more than 11 countries have been trained in CSE short and long courses.
CSE Africa alumni impact the management of approximately 7 million hectares, including 700 communities and over 200,000 people, an estimated 25% of which are indigenous communities.

Our solution

CSE’s mission is to create an enabling environment for social harmony and realised human rights by equipping companies, civil society, and governments with well-trained social practitioners from the regions where they operate.

We mobilise diverse social experts who have real-world experience addressing social issues to design and teach courses to students on the front lines of company-community interactions. CSE offers:

  • Best-in-class trainings and resources on Community Relations, Conflict Resolution, Workers’ Rights, Respect for Indigenous Peoples, and Social Management Systems.
  • A dynamic network of alumni supporting, teaching and challenging one another for continuous growth and learning.

When companies have staff with this kind of training and support, they can more effectively engage with stakeholders, and they are better equipped to avoid community and worker conflicts that can be costly for everyone. Businesses, governments and investors increasingly understand that investing in what it takes to cultivate healthy community and worker relationships not only reduces risk, but it can create value. Constructive social management can lower operational and capital costs, and it can protect the reputations of brands and sectors. Companies and investors that secure and maintain a ‘social license to operate’ from communities and other stakeholders find their core business strengthened.

Well-trained staff are key, and CSE’s courses are designed to build the human capital to make this a reality.

Our Projects

Regional Programme: CSE Brazil (São Paulo)

CSE Brazil is organising best-in-class guidance and training for professionals from multiple sectors on specific methods, including Free…

Regional Programme: CSE Africa (Cameroon)

CSE Africa was established in 2008 to strategically build local capacity on-the-ground in Central and West Africa.

Regional Programme: CSE Indonesia (Jakarta)

CSE Indonesia specialises in delivering ‘Short Courses’ lasting 3-10 days that bring together stakeholders from diverse perspectives,…

News & Stories

Aug 10, 2023

Opinion Piece: The Role of Companies in Advancing Indigenous Rights

Jun 19, 2023

Human Rights Protection: A Corporate Responsibility

Apr 27, 2023

Guinea's Responsible Mining Summit Brings Together Industry Leaders


Jan 24, 2019

Beyond Certification

pdf. 892.1 KB

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Feb 15, 2022

CSE Case Study Rainforest Alliance

pdf. 3.3 MB

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Feb 15, 2022

CSE Case Study Victor

pdf. 1.1 MB

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Feb 15, 2022


pdf. 3.3 MB

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Feb 15, 2022

CSE Case Study Tatiana Eboua

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Feb 15, 2022


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