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 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.

Kent Glenzer

Professor, MBA, MPA, and International Policy and Development 
Glenzer learned from one of the best to be an exemplary development professional.

Hi, my name is Kent Glenzer and I’m the Dean of the Graduate School of International Policy and Management here at the Middlebury Institute. And I want to tell a story from my past that shaped my career as a development professional and who I am as a teacher.

It was back in the 80s, I was just out of a Peace Corp and my wife just got got a job back in Mali with USAID. And so the first couple of weeks there, I pounded the pavement for a local hire job. And finally secured a position as executive assistant with Sandy Lomark, the country director of CARE International in Bamako.

Over 18 months, Sandy introduced me to the business of international development. I worked a bit in procurement, in finance, in donor relations, in programming, in communications, even going out to the field to manage sub-offices. As a mentor, Sandy was unyielding in her perfectionism toward me, but also exhibiting a lot of compassion and encouragement.

She invited me to engage with her as an equal and then was very precise and specific at the moments where I wasn’t quite up to that task yet. That single relationship made my career, 30 years of working on questions of poverty, social justice, and human rights largely in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Four years ago I changed careers and came to the Institute and I think of Sandy a lot. Because Sandy’s job with me, wasn’t to replicate herself through me, but to make me a better development professional than she had ever been. That’s my job in the classroom here, to make every student that comes into the classroom a better development professional than I ever was.

Courses Taught

Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021 - MIIS, Fall 2022 - MIIS

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Course Description

This class is run in collaboration with , 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 problems is another name for these kinds of challenges – we will focus on this semester is housing insecurity. We will have two partners – Gathering for Women, and Renters United – and students will assist both of these organizations on policy changes for Monterey

Terms Taught

Spring 2022 - MIIS, Spring 2023 - MIIS

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Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022 - MIIS, Fall 2022 - MIIS, MIIS Second Half of Term

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Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022 - MIIS

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Course Description

Many of the problems that students at MIIS want to work on are structural, complex (meaning non-linear), have long success horizons (i.e., no 1-5 year project can truly solve them), and are only partially amenable to standard approaches and methodologies for assessing impact. Indeed, the difficulty of “measuring” structural progress in things like racial, economic, gender, and climate justice incentivizes projects and programs with short time spans, highly quantified “outputs” and “outcomes” which can be successful during their life spans but frequently fail to produce long-term impacts. Our class will a) unpack the reasons for a reliance on project modalities in social development work (spoiler: it’s not because donors or public officials or NGO leaders are stupid), and b) introduce learners – at a conceptual level – to 8 approaches to assessing impact in complex, nonlinear, emergent contexts, approaches that can help us avoid “dumbing down” projects to measuring that which can be quantified, or counted.

Terms Taught

Spring 2023 - MIIS

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Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021 - MIIS, Spring 2022 - MIIS, Spring 2023 - 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 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.


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.


“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.

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