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Human Change Project

Interim Report – August 2001


The Human Change Project (HCP) came into existence in the fall of 2000 as the
first fully funded project of the Integral Institute. Its goal is the creation of an
Encyclopedia of Human Development, a detailed and easily accessible catalog of all
research on human psychological and spiritual growth. Ken Wilber’s extensive work
in the field of human development provides a guideline for the project, while a
number of other prominent developmental psychologists serve as consultants to it.
The creation of this encyclopedia will be followed by a series of annual or bi-annual
appendices that will keep it current. It is being created initially on a private web site
to later be converted to bound publications and CD versions. These will be made
available to libraries and private collections for the benefit of researchers in the field
of human transformation throughout the world. [1]

What the encyclopedia will include.

Because of the considerable magnitude this undertaking, the team decided to

initially limits its goal to research on growth processes at the average, or
conventional, levels of development, and upward through the postconventional
levels. We are especially interested in research that utilizes rigorous research
designs, both quantitative and quantitative, and chose not to catalog purely
theoretical or narrative studies. The goal of the Encyclopedia is to provide a catalog
of research that is sufficiently detailed to provide professional scholars and
researchers an easy access to the entire range of investigations on psychological and
spiritual development.


The core team is directed by two Ph.D. psychologists, Allan Combs [2] and Richard
Mann, [3] and initially included three master’s level personnel, David Zeitler, John
Churchill, and David Arrell, [4] as well as consultants Dr. Susanne Cook-
Greuter, [5] Jeff Stewart, [6] and Dr. Michael Mahoney. [7] Developmental
psychologist Robert Kegan of Harvard University serves as a special consultant to
the project.

Initial objectives: Choosing long-term goals.

Such a large project requires considerable discussion and planning. With this in
mind, the group took the time to design and create a support structure that would
sustain the project over the years to come, while optimizing its usefulness to
researchers. To facilitate the discussion and planning a web forum was created and
maintained for the team by Antony Arcari.[8]

Selecting the range of studies to be reported.

Discussions led to the creation of a four-level rating system for the selection
of reports. Thus, each report under consideration is assigned a number from
zero (not appropriate for the encyclopedia) through four (essential for the
encyclopedia). The criteria for the ratings include the report’s relevance
(does it address growth, or transformation, and not simply change?), the
rigor with which it was carried out, and the significance of its potential
contribution in terms of understanding human transformation.

The Developmental Typology.

As part of this discussion, the team sketched out a Developmental
Typology of developmental techniques and practices, both recent and
traditional, from both the East and the West.

A table of developmental stages.

To facilitate our ability to identify specific levels of development, a
detailed table of virtually all known stages of development was
developed by Susann Cook-Greuter and Jeff Stewart for easy
reference, while Richard Mann and others created a listing of
comparative developmental stages [9] as seen by several well-known
developmental theorists.

Narrative descriptions of developmental.

To complement the above work the team alas began an ongoing
project of collecting instances of narrative writing that exemplify
each level. This project will continue as a complement to the
development of the basic encyclopedia.

Survey and consideration of journals.

The team decided that the most efficient way to proceed for a project of this
magnitude was to choose journals, one at a time, and transcribe all of the
applicable articles in them.[10] Initial electronic surveys of critical topics,
such as “meditation,” yielded a basic list of journals to begin with. When all
of the appropriate articles from these journals are transcribed it is the
intention of the team to following up the references that are included in
them. The team also intends to seek out special research collections for
inclusion in the encyclopedia.

Accessibility of resources.
The team surveyed the libraries locally accessible to its members in order to
discover which contained journals in the above list. They also developed
access routines to electronic library resources on the web.

Deciding which aspects of each study to include.

The purpose of the encyclopedia is to make available to scholars the
essential details of many research reports. Keeping in mind that a complete
transcription of all such reports would yield an encyclopedia of cumbersome
length, to say nothing of the time required to produce it, the team considered
which aspects of the research reports to transcribe in most detail. Out of this
came the design and creation of the transcription template, described below,
that accommodates records of detailed information from each research
report, including its purpose, methods of investigation and data analysis,
types of research participants, findings and conclusions, key words,
principal references, and abstract. It also provides room for observations
concerning the strengths and weakness of each study, and a rough appraisal
of where the investigation and its participants fit in the project’s overall
model of development.

Creating a transcription template.

Richard Mann and David Zeitler formed a smaller team that crafted and
constructed the data entry template for the project. They began with a series
of prototype templates (click here for an example) leading to the final
construction of a working data entry template supported by Filemaker as a
password-protected web site [11] on the computer of the University of
Michigan library. The entire construction and systematic testing of the
working site involved several months of programming and team testing.
This phase of the project benefited greatly by the generous help of the
technical staff of the University of Michigan library, and of Yvette Clinton,
a graduate student in Library Science.

Copyright considerations.
Richard Mann and Allan Combs consulted with university librarians
concerning copyright issues that might be raised by the creation of such an
encyclopedia. This will be a matter of ongoing exploration for the project,
but certain facts have emerged. First, abstracts are widely reproduced in the
literature and it is unlikely that anyone would fault our duplication of them
exactly as they are written in the original research publications. Beyond this,
the other aspects of each report must be transcribed in our own words and
not reproduced exactly as they originally appeared.

Training the team.

The successful transcription of research reports requires more than simply
writing descriptions of published reports. The essence of the original study—
its hypotheses, methods, findings, etc.—must be captured in fewer words
than the original, and this must be done with little or no loss of information.
Thus, the team members who create the transcriptions need to have excellent
writing skills. The transcribed text needs to be clear and unambiguous, and it
must be written in a style acceptable to all; in this case we decided on the
standard APA style. The transcriber must be familiar with the wide variety
of research designs and types of data analyses that are represented in the
literature, and have the ability to appraise the adequacy of the conclusions
they find in the reports. Not surprisingly—at least in retrospect—only those
team members with advanced graduate training were able to accomplish all
this at the beginning. In the long run, however, making the transcriptions
was a job for the master’s level personnel, so the team spent more than a
month working in pairs, one master’s level member teaming with one of the
doctoral level members, learning the process of transcribing and evaluating
reports. This was done using a small initial set of research reports for which
the results were evaluated on an ongoing basis by the entire team. To aid in
this learning process, Michael Mahoney provided a summary list of basic
research designs.

The first transcriptions.

The team began the actual job of transcribing research reports onto the
template with The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology (JTP). Beginning
with its first issue, the entire journal was surveyed for research reports that
matched the criteria for inclusion in the encyclopedia. About 25 reports were
selected and these were transcribed onto the Filemaker template where they
are now available for viewing.

Temporarily scaling back the HCP.

In the spring of 2001, during the completion of the above phase of the
project, financial restrictions made it necessary for the HCP to scale back its
activities while the Integral Institute sought new funding commitments. The
team first responded by shifting its priorities to allow its master’s level
members to continue their work. Three months later, with further reductions,
it reduced its activities to a single part-time commitment by David Zeigler.
David continues to develop and round out the accomplishments of the team
so far, in preparation for future funding that will allow the HCP project to
again move forward quickly with the project.

Extending the work.

During the late spring of 2001 the project shifted its chief priority to seek out
and catalog research reports in preparation for a full future reactivation.

Searching the literature.

This slower phase of the project began with a search for target research reports
in the PsycInfo database. The search string "adult development" yielded just
over 3,500 hits. Of these, roughly 700 were bona-fide studies on human
transformation. The search continued with the names of a selected group of
human transformation theorists, including Ken Wilber, Robert Kegan, Bert
Parlee, Jenny Wade, Susann Cook-Greuter, Kaisa Puhakka, Jane Loevinger,
Jack Englar, Daniel Brown, Lawrence Kohlberg, Carol Gilligan, Stan Grof,
Richard Mann, and Allan Combs. A search under “meditation and development”
also yielded a considerable number of hits. This work was done by David
Zeitler, who continues to catalog useful references and record their abstracts.

Reports on file.

At the time of this writing (early August) the Filemaker template contains

Completely transcribed reports: 25

Abstracted reports: 460[12]
References only: 270[13]

For a total of roughly 735 entries.

David Zeigler continues this work as a part-time employee of the Integral Institute.

[1] We also anticipate a series of studies, using meta-analysis or similar procedures, that will be
published in research journals and reported at professional meetings.
[2] University of North Carolina-Asheville; Saybrook Graduate School, San Francisco
[3] University of Michigan, Professor emeritus of Psychology and Religion.
[4] John Churchill, and David Arrell left the project in the spring because of school and other
[5] President of Harthill USA; Harvard School of Education Ed.D.
[6] Harvard School of Education ABD.
[7] Professor of Psychology, University of North Texas
[8] Technical consultant and doctoral student; Saybrook Graduate School.
[9] A more easily read version of this table can be downloaded as an Excel file.
[10] This approach avoids repeated library visits to collect articles from the same journals.
[11] Use “super” for both the Login name and the Password. In reading the files note that, since limited
formatting is available with Filemaker, carriage returns are each indicated by a “~” sign, and the
beginning and ending of italics are indicated by “*” signs. This allows a word processor with a “search
and replace” utility to re-create the original line breaks and italics. For a more detailed report on the
Filemaker data template and its use, see the recent report by David Zeitler.
[12] Abstract only, but rated high, medium, or low priority for complete transcription.
[13] Also rated high, medium, or low priority for complete transcription.