By Marianne McCarthy
Dr. Steven E. Wallis (HOD ’06) just returned from a five-week assignment in Halle, Germany as a Fulbright Specialist supporting experts at a research center develop better theory and policy for more effective teaching, research, and implementation.
In true Fielding style, Wallis continued his work postdoctoral and developed a research method, Integrative Propositional Analysis (IPA), which measures the transformative capacity of theories. As an expert at analyzing policies and strategic plans and looking at ways to increase their usefulness to individuals and organizations,
he applied to the Fulbright Foundation and was added to the Fulbright Specialist Roster in 2013. When IPA caught the eye of a research associate at the Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO), Wallis got his first assignment.
IAMO (pronounced I-am-oh) develops policy recommendations in agriculture and commerce to support emerging nations in central and Eastern Europe. Wallis worked with IAMO scholars and researchers who want their theories and policies to be more effective in practical applications.
“I spent five weeks in a stimulating and intellectually challenging mix of presentations, workshops, and meetings with individual scholars,” says Wallis.
During his time in Germany, Wallis attended conferences and workshops, gave presentations on this methodology, and mentored scholars and researchers. He helped doctoral candidates sort their literature reviews to identify gaps in the theory where the candidate might focus their research. In another project, he helped researcher, Dr. Tuck Fatt Siew, create and integrate perception graphs of key stakeholders to understand complex problems of water usage in China.
A doctoral student, Nozilakhon Mukhamedova, was having a difficult time compiling all her research on land and water reform in Central Asia into a coherent picture. Using IPA to map multiple theoretical perspectives, she was able provide a map for moving forward on her dissertation.
“I learned a lot about agriculture, economics, and life in transition economies from my new colleagues,” says Wallis. “In turn, they learned about IPA and made structural improvements to their theories.”
Some of the researchers provided suggestions for improving Wallis’s methodology. Ideas that he says will open a new stream of research.
“I am in awe, and deeply appreciative of the transformative events I experienced on this Fulbright Specialist adventure. I feel changed—more confidence in my approach yet, paradoxically, with a new understanding of how IPA may be improved,” says Wallis.
Being a Fulbright specialist is a five-year commitment, and there are a couple of institutions that have requested to work with Wallis. So there’s no telling where he will be placed in the future.
“I was honored to have been selected for this project and wish to express my deep appreciation to Fulbright, IAMO, and supportive colleagues: President Dr. Katrina Rogers at Fielding Graduate University; my Department Chairperson, Dr. Rebecca Loehrer, at Capella University; and Dr. Vladislav Valentinov at IAMO,” said Wallis.
You can read more about Wallis’ experience, at his blog.