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.
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 and Richard Mann, and initially included three master’s level personnel, David Zeitler, John Churchill, and David Arrell, as well as consultants Dr. Susanne Cook-Greuter, Jeff Stewart, and Dr. Michael Mahoney. Developmental psychologist Robert Kegan of Harvard University serves as a special consultant to the project.
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.
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 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. 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 website 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.
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 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.
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.
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 roughly:
Completely transcribed reports: 25
Abstracted reports: 460
References only: 270
For a total of roughly 735 entries.
David Zeigler continues this work as a part-time employee of the Integral Institute.
 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.
 University of North Carolina-Asheville, Emeritus; Saybrook Graduate School, San Francisco
 University of Michigan, Professor emeritus of Psychology and Religion.
 John Churchill, and David Arrell left the project in the spring because of school and other obligations.
 President of Harthill USA; Harvard School of Education Ed.D.
 Harvard School of Education ABD.
 Professor of Psychology, University of North Texas
 Technical consultant and doctoral student; Saybrook Graduate School.
 This approach avoids repeated library visits to collect articles from the same journals.
 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.
 Abstract only, but rated high, medium, or low priority for complete transcription.
 Also rated high, medium, or low priority for complete transcription.