Susan Holcombe

Professor Emerita of the Practice of The Heller School for Social Policy and Management

Susan  Holcombe's photo


Office: Heller-Brown Building 105
Phone: 781-736-2207
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Management and implementation of development policies, programs and projects. Scaling up.

Field experience in China, including the Tibet Autonomous Region; Bangladesh, Sudan, Fiji, Pakistan; Afghanistan; Zimbabwe and East Africa.


  • New York University
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Mt. Holyoke College

Susan Holcombe

Professor Emerita of the Practice of The Heller School for Social Policy and Management


Professor Holcombe's teaching and publication builds on a career of practice and a focus on building capabilities for human development. She was Program Director for Oxfam America and has served in various positions with UNFPA, UNIFEM and UNICEF in New York and in multiple field postings. She has participated in or led field evaluations and assessments for Ford Foundation, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNDP, World Bank and the University of the South Pacific. Currently Professor Holcombe teaches in the MA Program in Sustainable International Development. She has taught a range of courses including Frameworks for Development; Demographics of Development; Governance and Development, Managing Policy and Practice Change in Health Systems and an online, inter-university course, Aligning Policy and Practice with Development Goals and Values. She assists the The Poverty Alleviation Fund ( with program planning and monitoring.

Awards and Honors

  • Heller School Mentoring Award (2011)


  • Holcombe, Susan and Marion Howard. Practicing Development. Boulder: Kumarian Press, 2019.
  • Malunga, Chiku and Susan Holcombe, Eds.. Endogenous Development. New York: Routledge, 2016.
  • Holcombe, Susan. "Structuring a Global NGO for a Rights-based Change Agenda." Change not Charity Essays on Oxfam America's first 40 years. ebook. ed. Ed. Laura Roper. Boston: Oxfam, 2011. 362-376.
  • Yeshi, Choeden; Wangdui, Puching; and Holcombe, Susan. "“Health and Hygiene Behavior Change: Bottom Up Meets Top Down in Tibet”." Development in Practice Vol. 9. No. 3 (2010): 396-402.
  • Holcombe, Susan. "Capabilities and Human Rights Approaches: Competing Paradigms or Re-enforcing Models?." Prospects, MIT Journal of Planning 8. (2009): 108-119.
  • Holcombe, Susan, Nawaz, Safia Ali Kamwendo, Anderson & Ba, Khady. "Managing Development: NGO Perspectives." In International Public Management Journal 7. 2 (2004): 187-206.
  • Holcombe,Susan & Offenheiser, Raymond C.. Challenges and Opportunities in Implementing a Rights-based Approach to Development: An Oxfam America Perspective. Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 2003.
  • Raymond Offenheiser, Susan Holcombe and Nancy Hopkins. "Grappling with Globalization, Partnership and Learning: A Look Inside Oxfam America." Non- Profit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 28. 4 (1999).
  • Holcombe, Susan. Managing to Empower. Zed Books, 1995.