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.

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

Courses offered in the past two years.

  • Current term
  • Upcoming term(s)

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.

Spring 2021 - MIIS, Fall 2021 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

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.

Spring 2021 - MIIS, Fall 2021 - MIIS

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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.

Fall 2020 - MIIS, MIIS Second Half of Term

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Seminar: Program Evaluation for Social Change Organizations

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 2020 - MIIS, MIIS First Half of Term

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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.