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 cultural hegemony, power, organizations, transformational social change, public/private/nonprofit collaboration, deploying qualitative and mixed method approaches. His current board engagements include Change Elemental, Gathering for Women, the City of Monterey Appeals board, and serves on advisory panels for Oxfam International and the Community-Led Development Movement. Kent co-leads CoLab, a partnership between academic institutions and organizations and communities in the County of Monterey. He is also an Associate Editor of the Action Research Journal.
Power, Social Change, Organizations
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 that span across the public, private, and non-profit sectors. This course will look at one such intractable problem – the fact that a very large percentage of workers in the United States do not come close to earning a living wage – and unpack the multiple reasons for this and the harms to society that this situation creates. The course will then challenge students to identify pathways forward towards achieving a society in which all workers receive a living wage. Learners will master tools and approaches for power, institutional, and hegemonic analysis; acquire knowledge about the actions needed to bring together odd bedfellows (organizations/sectors that do not normally work together); gain understanding of what a true living wage is in the US and how to calculate it; and will build a sophisticated understanding regarding how structural social change actually happens…vs. how we may wish it happens.
This class is run in collaboration with https://www.middlebury.edu/institute/academics/centers-initiatives/colab , a partnership between CSUMB and MIIS to increase the impact of faculty and students at the two institutions on intractable issues and problems in Monterey County. The intractable problem – wicked problem (https://ssir.org/books/excerpts/entry/wicked_problems_problems_worth_solving) is another name for these kinds of challenges – we will focus on this semester is homelessness. We will undertake research and action in partnership with homeless service providers in the local area. By the end of the course, Students will have:
1. Understood community-engaged action research as a methodology particularly suited to making a difference on seemingly unsolvable problems and compared/contrasted it to other research approaches;
2. Sharpened research skills learned in other courses they have taken either at MIIS or previously;
3. Developed a long-term learning and accountability framework for CoLab’s work on homelessness over the next 5-10 years;
4. Produced actionable knowledge for practitioners in our area’s homeless service providers;
5. Grasped the full range of forces – structural, cultural, political, economic, historic – that make ending homelessness so very difficult.
The precise scope/deliverables for the semester are still under development: course faculty are in continuing talks with homeless service providers about the best focus for the spring semester. However, a key partner for the semester is Gathering For Women (https://www.gatheringforwomen.org/), a Monterey organization focused on homeless women.
Meeting dates: January 28, 2019 – February 15, 2019
This hands-on course focuses on analysis of qualitative data. “Qualitative data”, refers to interview, focus group, written reports and visual records; hundreds of pages of them. Qualitative data sets will be provided, as there is no time in this short course to engage in primary data collection. Our entire focus will be on a) deciding how to interrogate the data (what is it you wish to know, demonstrate, reveal, test?), b) developing code books and coding, c) inter-coder reliability, and d) a wide variety of analytical approaches you can use, once you have qualitative data reduced and organized.
This course emphasizes the importance of learning-through-doing, making mistakes, and collaborative analysis (qualitative inquiry is almost always improved through collaboration). Your final product will be a written analysis that summarizes your findings.
Students will choose a focal topic or challenge that is relevant to their degree. Under faculty member’s guidance, students will then implement a suitable plan of activities to shed significant light on this topic. Final products may take many forms including a traditional research paper, a guide or manual for practitioners, a video product, or alternative deliverable that would be of value to a well-defined audience of practitioners. Students must identify a faculty sponsor who has consented to supervise the project in order to enroll in this class. Work can be taken on-campus or in field settings. Credit is variable (4 or 6 units) and depends upon the scope, complexity and rigor of the project.
The B section is 3 credits and is only open to joint IEM/MPA students.
How can we change public and/or organizational policies, practices, or procedures? How can civil society actors make effective arguments, forge campaigns and movements, and influence the decisions of powerful actors? How can advocacy help us bend justice’s arc…and what does a policy advocate actually do? What kind of careers and jobs are out there?
Taking a real-time problem-centered approach, this course will build career-ready competencies in three areas: policy advocacy research, policy advocacy strategy, and advocacy implementation. Students will work together in teams of 3-5, and during the course will create a campaign and actually advocate on an issue of importance here in the City or County of Monterey. The ethos of the course is action, action, action. Students will be able to identify and work on their own advocacy issue, however two issues are teed up for the course should students wish to engage: Advocating that the City of Monterey become a “living wage city” or helping local NGO Gathering for Women pursue housing for homeless women.
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 teaching. 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. Oh, and also: I’m passionate about underground hip-hop, post-punk, and the amazing new sounds coming out of the global latinx communities.
- 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.
“Towards Equity: Power, Cultural Hegemony, and Organizations.” Action Research Journal 19, 4 (2021): 609-613.
“Caring in Action Research.” Co-authored with Hilary Bradbury. Action Research Journal 19, 3 (2021): 475-479.
Development, Aid, and Social Transformation. Special Issue of the Action Research Journal. Lead among four co-editors, June 2017.
“Untaming aid through action research: Seeking transformative reflective action.” Co-authored with Alfredo Ortiz-Aragon. In Glenzer et. al. eds, Special Issue of the Action Research Journal, June 2017.
“Insurgent inquiry: Connecting action research, impact evaluation, and global strategy in a rights-based international development NGO.” Co-authored with Elisa Martinez and Michael Drinkwater. The Handbook of Action Research, 3rd edition, 2015.
“Introduction to Symposium on Rethinking Farmer Participation in Agricultural Development: Development, Participation, and the Ethnography of Ambiguity.” Co-authored with Nicole Peterson and Carla Roncoli. Journal of Agriculture and Human Values 1, 28 (February 2011): 98-9.
“We Aren’t the World: La production institutionnelle du succès partiel.” In Niger 2005: Une catastrophe si naturelle, eds Xavier Crombé and Jean-Hervé Jézéquel, 117-144. Paris: Editions Karthala, 2007.
“La Sécheresse: The Social and Institutional Construction of a Development Problem in the Malian (Soudanese) Sahel, c.1900-1982.” Canadian Journal of African Studies 36, 1 (2002): 1-34.
“Leading learning and change from the middle: Re-conceptualizing strategy’s purpose, content and measures.” Co-authored with Colin Beckwith and Alan Fowler. Development in Practice 12, 3-4 (August 2001): 409-423.
“State, Donor and NGO Configurations in Malian Development 1960-1999: The Enactment and Contestation of Global Rationalized Myths in an Organizational Field.” In Globalization, the Third World State and Poverty-Alleviation in the Twenty-First Century, ed. Ikubolajeh Logan, 161-180. Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing, 2001.