Professor Glenn Denning is a world-renowned expert in international agriculture, food security and sustainable development, who has dedicated his career to ending hunger and malnutrition. As Professor of Professional Practice and founding Director of the Master of Public Administration in Development Practice at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Glenn’s current work focuses on sustainable transformation of the global food system. Over the past 40 years, Glenn has advised governments and international organisations on agriculture and food policy in more than 50 countries. At the global level, he served on the UN Millennium Project Hunger Task Force and the Senior Steering Group of the UN High Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis. Glenn contributed to the design and establishment of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) and served on GAFSP’s Technical Advisory Committee, reviewing, evaluating, and endorsing country proposals that resulted in approval of over $1 billion of grant funding to more than 25 countries. He also served on the founding board of the Institute of African Leadership for Sustainable Development and advised the Asian Development Bank on aligning its strategy and operations to the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Glenn’s international career began in Bali in the mid-1970s, where he served as a master’s research scholar from the University of Queensland. He then moved to the Philippines, spending three years on an Australian-funded rural development project in war-torn Mindanao. From there, Glenn joined the International Rice Research Institute, where he supported countries to improve rice production and self-sufficiency. One of his major successes came in Cambodia, where he mobilized technical and financial support that helped the country emerge from war and genocide to become self-sufficient and later a rice exporter. In recognition of this work, Denning was honored by the Government of Cambodia as Commander of the Royal Order of Sahametrei in 2000. From Asia, Glenn relocated to Kenya where, for more than a decade, he designed and led agroforestry and rural development programs across Africa with the World Agroforestry Centre and Columbia University’s Earth Institute.
In 2009, he moved to Columbia University in New York City, where his teaching and mentorship have inspired hundreds of young practitioners—in 2014, he received the Columbia University Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching. In January 2023, Glenn published Universal Food Security: How to End Hunger While Protecting the Planet –a practical, evidence-based guide to transforming the global food system. He believes the key to tackling complex global issues like world hunger lies in setting ambitious goals, staying well-informed, building unlikely alliances, and designing blended solutions. He describes himself as a pragmatic optimist.