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Associate Professor

Kent Glenzer
McCone Building M114
(831) 647-4149

Kent has extensive work and research experience in sub-Saharan Africa, having spent 28 years prior to coming to the Institute with international NGOs such as Oxfam America, CARE, PATH, and also with Peace Corps. His work, teaching, and research focuses on the intersections of culture, organizational behavior, monitoring and evaluation, decision making, and strategy. He specializes in understanding how power dynamics, identity politics, and structural exclusion influence organizations, public policy, philanthropy, and the relationships between public, private, and nonprofit actors.

Courses Taught

Courses offered in the past four years.

  • Current term
  • Upcoming term(s)

Complex social problems are beyond the capacity of any single organization – or sector -- to solve. Their sheer intractability suggests that we need new ways of both understanding the problems themselves and imagining solutions. This comparative case-based course – the course will consist of a series of inquiries into actual cases and elicitation of concrete practical lessons from those cases -- looks at different ways of structuring, managing, and leading collaborations between public, private, nonprofit, faith-based, and social movement actors to make a positive, large, and lasting impact on intractable and pressing global challenges: gender inequity, food and livelihood insecurity, structural poverty, climate change and adaptation, inter-generational inequity, inequitable access to health care, predatory capitalism and economic inequality. Learners will master tools and approaches for power, institutional, and hegemonic analysis; learners will acquire knowledge about the actions needed to bring together odd bedfellows, organizations that do not normally work together and face deep institutional and cultural constraints to doing so. The course will challenge learners to build a sophisticated understanding regarding how structural social change actually happens…vs. how we may wish it happens. Students will leave the course armed with broad strategies, approaches, tactics, and historical, comparative knowledge about what has worked, in what contexts and the understanding that when it comes to shifting power relations in sustained ways the next challenge demands creative thinking, not application of past “best practice.”

NOTE: Students who have already taken MBAG8511, “Leading Across Borders II,” will find some duplication of content and learning objectives and should contact the professor prior to registering for the course.

Fall 2018 - MIIS

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Advanced Program Evaluation Practicum

This course is entirely practical field work. It is for professionals who have determined that their career trajectory will include a substantial focus on monitoring and evaluation. The prerequisite for this course is DPMI, DPPG 8664, significant work experience in program evaluation outside of MIIS, or a graduate level course in program evaluation from another university. It is a 4 credit course.

Every student in the course must arrive on the first day with a client organization for which the student will do an evaluation. The evaluation can be of many different kinds, but imperative is that the student be able to design, implement, and report findings to the client within 15 weeks. Students can form teams to work with the same client. Students can also work solo.

The professor will serve as coach, mentor, guide, and consultant to students, and learning trajectories will therefore be unique for each student/student team. Readings, classroom exercises, and required deliverables will be different for different student teams.

The course can satisfy the DPP requirement for a SEMINAR; or, an Evaluation Course; or, Practicum (for second year students); or, elective. May not satisfy more than one of these basket requirements.

Fall 2018 - MIIS

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Leadership Across Borders is intended to develop each student’s personal and leadership effectiveness as it relates to leading self (understanding the practical importance of self-awareness, leveraging strengths, and addressing areas for growth), leading others (appreciating differences, understanding diversity, inspiring and engaging others, and empowering others to do their best thinking and problem-solving), leading teams (facilitating successful outcomes in teams), and leading the organization (with a focus on organizational strategy and culture). This course is designed as a leadership experience by providing a learning environment that is interactive, engaging, and provides opportunities to practice critical leadership and interaction skills. This course, at its heart, is about the people side of the enterprise.

We will explore key leadership competencies and organizational dynamics that are critical for the success of any organization, regardless of industry and whether it be small not-for-profits, start-ups, or medium to large companies. We will explore the challenges and leadership implications of working across borders and embracing diversity. Given that the success of most organizations across the globe is dependent upon leveraging people’s capabilities and collaborating within and across teams, this course will provide numerous opportunities to put these principles into practice. Students will also have the opportunity to explore leadership “presence” by practicing their presentation skills in an intensive day-long workshop.

By the end of this course, students will be ready to:

1. Act as a force for positive change inside any organization and be able to adapt personal strategies in diverse business, social, and market contexts (PLO 7)

3. Integrate into and/or lead multi-cultural teams (PLO 6)

4. Choose from a range of styles to effectively manage relationships with coworkers, bosses, and direct reports (PLO 6)

5. Articulate solutions to business problems orally in a persuasive manner

Fall 2018 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop

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“Complex social problems are beyond the capacity of any single organization – or sector -- to solve. This case-based course looks at different ways of structuring, managing, and leading inter-organizational collaboration. First, we theorize power itself. Second, we build a sophisticated understanding of debates regarding how structural social change actually happens…vs. how we may wish it happens. Third, we challenge our implicit mental models of what an “organization” even is. Then, we look at specific, real-world cases – relative success stories -- where relations and structures of power have been de- and re-institutionalized. The goal is to understand what managers, leaders, and activists can actually do, pragmatically, to foster such social, political, and cultural change. Central to the course is looking at organizations themselves as social and cultural constructions, as sites where larger political struggles over power get enacted. In other words: the course will de-romanticize “NGOs” or “Social Enterprises” and unpack them as instantiations of extant power relations and forms of structural inequality rather than heroic actors somehow immune from such things. Our goal in this course is not to identify which kind of collective effort is uniformly best – students seeking black-and-white certainty and infallible “tools” will be very disappointed. Rather, our aim is to understand the strengths, weaknesses, limits, and opportunities of different approaches to collective action, depending on program goals and the operating context. Students will leave the course armed with broad strategies, approaches, tactics, and historical, comparative knowledge about what has worked, in what contexts…and the understanding that when it comes to shifting power relations in sustained ways…the next challenge demands creative thinking, not application of past “best practice.”

Spring 2018 - MIIS, MIIS Second Half of Term

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Changing Economic Policy: What Advocates Need to Know About Economics

How can citizens change economic policy? What changes in public economic policy could foster more just markets, more equitable and sustainable economic development, and build more resilient cities, towns, counties, regions and states? What are smart ways of doing this within an increasing – Trump notwithstanding – globalization of markets, skills, and economic cultures?

This course will focus on innovations in economic policies being promoted by social justice activists, critics of forms of capitalism that are leading to vast wealth inequality, and actors interested in promoting more resilient local economies. Students will engage in critique of these proposals and develop a deep understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, students will learn the tools, techniques, tactics and strategies of social justice advocacy. The course will include a large number of guest speakers from activist, advocate, public sector, and economic arenas.

Discussion of these policy innovations and advocacy will provide opportunities to deepen understanding of a host of economic concepts, including (but not limited to): the principles of, and public policy responses to address, market failure; theories of economic growth and investment; theories of income distribution and causes and consequences of economic inequality; taxation and transfers to businesses and households asset markets; theories of collective action. Students will demonstrate their facility with these economic concepts by integrating them into their course deliverables.

The major deliverable of the course: Students will work in teams on a strategy to pass a new economic policy of their choice at either city, county, or state level in California.

Fall 2017 - MIIS

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This seminar introduces participants to a variety of evaluation approaches appropriate to public sector and nongovernmental organizations engaged in social change, poverty alleviation, education, health and development work. Key issues include: uses of evaluation; alternative evaluation methodologies; evaluation as the process of testing hypotheses about linkages and causality; evaluating for sustainability; stakeholder identification; participatory approaches to evaluation; cross-cultural perspectives on evaluation; funding of evaluation; and, the role of organizational leadership and management in evaluation. Seminar participants review and critique evaluations of development assistance projects sponsored by bilateral, multilateral, and nongovernmental organizations. Additionally, they develop original evaluation designs that allow them to apply critical seminar concepts to a real-life project.

Fall 2017 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

Areas of Interest

I’m passionate about transforming higher education so as to better prepare young professionals to work on complex, wicked problems. This requires us to rethink and reinvent relationships between public, private, and nonprofit enterprises to connect disciplinary silos and expertise in new ways, and adopt transformative andragogical approaches in our programs. What the world doesn’t need is more competent, obedient, rule-following technocrats. What it does need is feral professionals who can transform systems and reconfigure long-standing relationships of power.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD, Emory University, 2005
  • MA in Communication, Cornell University, 1990
  • BA in Journalism, Northwestern University, 1983

Professor Glenzer has been teaching at the Institute since 2011.


  • Co-editor and chapter contributor in the forthcoming Action Research Handbook (3rd edition).
  • Appointed to Editorial Board of the Action Research Journal.
  • Led the formative evaluation of Save the Children’s $5 million program devoted to global knowledge sharing and building robust communities of practice related to food security programming.
  • Consulted with Geneva Global on a long-term program to build the civil society sector in western China. This work is ongoing.
  • Consulted with the Ford Foundation in China – and NGO partners there – on a strategic monitoring, evaluation, and learning system for the country office.
  • Contributed a chapter to a book on understanding culture and cultural change for the Army Research Institute, a book targeted at army officers, as well as being lead expert for a training module for army staff on using appreciative inquiry to advise host country staff on organizational development and change.
  • Authored Oxfam America’s Rights-Oriented Programming for Effectiveness and Oxfam International’s Program Principles, which both served to strategically frame the organization’s long-term and rights-based approaches to development and social change.
  • Oversaw a three-year, multi-level portfolio assessment of CARE’s work on women’s empowerment and oversaw the massaging of evaluation results into organizational practice.