Dr. Theising’s Reflection on Scholarship
I believe strongly in the principles set forth by the
Research to Innovation
From . . . To . . .
Idea generation Idea application
Individual inventions Collaborative innovations
Single discipline focus Interdisciplinary focus
University-centered work Regional collaborations
My work is increasingly
collaborative and interdisciplinary. In
an effort to go beyond my own paradigms, I have collaborated on multiple
projects with another faculty member in my own department, as well as with a colleague
On July 1, 2007, I was named Director of the SIUE Institute for Urban Research (IUR). I take this appointment as an endorsement of the importance of my scholarship to the University. In the press release announcing my appointment, Graduate Dean and Assistant Provost for Research Steve Hansen said, “Andy has an outstanding record of research in urban issues” (Malone 2007). In this new role, my personal research agenda became integrated with the agenda of the IUR, which has already begun implementation. This institutional position helps me advance all four of the ARS descriptors of innovation: applicative, collaborative, interdisciplinary, and regional.
About Urban Scholarship
Urban scholarship is rather distinct within Political Science. The study of state and local politics was once considered the “backwater” of the field, notes Ronald Weber (Weber 1994, 255). Urban politics has also been criticized in the field for its reliance on case studies, qualitative analysis, and theoretical perspectives (Mladenka and Jones 1994, 287). Mladenka and Jones observe that scholarly journals publish fewer articles on urban scholarship than in other subfields of the discipline, that urban scholars are not prominent among editorial boards of the major journals in Political Science, and that empiricists in the discipline do not take urban research seriously (Mladenka and Jones 1994, 287-288).
This is not to say that urbanists cannot make a contribution—quite the contrary is true. For all their criticism of the urban subfield, Mladenka and Jones acknowledge that urban scholars have much to offer, and highlight the fact that urban scholarship is a “hallowed” tradition, that the local level of government is where profound change is most closely and directly experienced—local settings are where global, national, and voting behavior outcomes happen at street level and where day-to-day lives are affected; and that the great quantity and diversity of local governments allows a fantastic scientific “leverage” that gives needed samples to test theories and understandings (Mladenka and Jones 1994, 288-289).
I find my work as an urbanist quite rewarding. It is important work to me, it is valued by the University, and most importantly it is valued by the region. My work has been used by educators, practitioners, and public officials to improve quality of life for residents of the region—which is the highest purpose my work can serve.
Linking Scholarship and Coursework
As an urbanist, I have found my research to be closely linked to the courses I have developed for the Political Science Department and I believe that my teaching and my research have benefited from the linkage. I have developed a meaningful urban research agenda that has been well-established, yet has plenty of room for growth and creativity for years to come. I also find that my urban research fits closely with SIUE’s desire to be recognized as a premier metropolitan university.
I enjoy sharing my research with students, and regularly integrate this material into courses whenever possible—as a formal presentation and lecture, or as an informal example given extemporaneously during class discussions. I especially enjoy taking students on field expeditions to see the study area for themselves in order to make their own primary observations. The three new courses I have developed all stem from my research agenda.
Contributions of My Scholarship to Other Scholars, the Community, and the University
My work has been cited and utilized in several places, and I meet with other scholars regularly to share resources and promote complementary scholarly activity. I do not view other scholars as competitors; rather, I view them as advancing understanding and interest in my field and validating my work. I am most proud of the acknowledgement given me by historian Dr. Malcolm McLaughlin in his 2005 work on the East St. Louis Race Riot:
I think Dr. McLaughlin’s statement illustrates my willingness to be a cooperative member of the scholarly community, my ability to cross academic disciplines, and that I have produced meaningful scholarship.
One of the most significant developments regarding my scholarly work occurred in 2003, when my research was made into a public television documentary (Made In USA: The East St. Louis Story) and my research was published as a companion book to the documentary (Made In USA: East St. Louis, Illinois—The Rise and Fall of an Industrial River Town). The documentary won a 2003 “Excellence in Journalism Award” from the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists and a 2004 regional Emmy Award.
work has garnered the attention of several practitioners. The documentary developed from my work has
been shown by the Federal Reserve Bank of
Other book titles that I’ve been involved with:
To the University:
establishment of the Andrew J. Theising Research Collection in the Bowen
Archives here at SIUE has helped make SIUE a leading repository of research
Not only have I made my own
contribution to SIUE, I have helped secure the donation of the John Bowman
Papers from the personal collection of Raymond W. “Sandy” Peters of St. Louis—John
Bowman’s great-grandson. John Bowman
founded the City of
Accomplishments in Scholarship
The book has
proven popular with both the public and academics, and has brought a degree of
favorable attention to SIUE. The release
event was hosted by the Missouri Historical Society and drew a capacity crowd
exceeding 300. Numerous book signings
and presentations were made. The book
was prominently featured by the major newspapers in the metropolitan area,
including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
the Belleville News Democrat, and the
Suburban Journals. The book has been used in multiple courses at
several institutions by different disciplines, including the Washington
University School of Architecture, the Washington University College of Arts
and Sciences, the East St. Louis Action Research Project of the
In 2010, the book went into its second printing and remains
the authoritative volume on
I enjoy sharing my scholarship with
practitioners, professionals, government officials, and other scholars through
conference involvement. I have been
active in professional conferences each year.
In October 2002, I was asked to be the opening general session speaker
at the Rays of Hope Conference, a key Midwestern conference sponsored by the
Federal Reserve Bank of
In October 2003, I presented a
jointly authored paper (with Debra Moore) at the Conference on Illinois
History, a state-sponsored academic conference held in
I was invited to be a discussant in September 2004 at the Brownfields 2004: Gateway to Revitalization Conference sponsored by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the International City/County Managers Association. This was a major national conference for academic, professional, and political participants involved in urban, economic, and environmental endeavors. The conference showed the public television documentary based on my research, and I facilitated the discussion of the programs key points.
In addition, I have pursued funded research opportunities. One example was a proposal to study the effect of TIF in the St. Louis MSA, with particular attention to its application in the Metro East area. The project, “A Comparative Contextual Analysis of the Effect of TIF on Economic Development in the Bi-State St. Louis MSA,” received funding in the amount of $8,500 from the SIUE Institute for Urban Research. In preparing and receiving this grant, I became a research fellow at the Institute and received Human Subjects Certification from the National Institutes of Health.
More recently, I have shifted my
work into applied research. I am one of
the principals (representing SIUE) in the Applied Research Collaborative, an
applied research partnership between SIUE,
My research agenda is built around the effects of suburbanization on urban cores, particularly the effects of industrial suburbs. It is centered on four components and each component has three different action outcomes: research outcomes, teaching outcomes, and service outcomes. The accompanying table explains this in more detail. I feel that my research agenda is well-established and is serving me well as a teacher and a scholar. My area of research adds value to the knowledge of my field and it serves CAS and the University well. Peer evaluations of my scholarship included in my evidence of scholarship support these conclusions.
A premier metropolitan university necessarily has connections to its community. My scholarship focuses on the SIUE community, and my research (and service) helps the university, community leaders, and citizens generally have a better understanding of the region. I believe strongly in SIUE’s mission, and am pleased to align my scholarship (as well as my teaching and service) with it.
Conclusion: Maintaining a Meaningful Research Agenda
My scholarship is strong and is making a contribution. My personal research agenda, which now has become institutionalized as part of the Institute for Urban Research, has clear outcomes on my teaching, research, and service. In a word, I like to feel that my scholarship is integrated.
I have tried to maintain an active research agenda that makes a contribution at multiple levels.
I believe that my research has gone from “idea generation” to “idea application,” that my work has evolved from being individual to being collaborative, that my work makes a contribution to my discipline but also has interdisciplinary value. Finally, I believe that in doing work that has practical value and understanding, I am contributing in the shift from university-centered work to that which builds regional collaborations.
On July 5, 2006—three years after its publication—my book was the 100,138th best selling book on Amazon.com, and on March 13, 2007, it ranked 93,979th. While these numbers have little scientific value, I do interpret them to indicate that the book still has a degree of interest and relevance to the academic community and readers at large.
Malcolm. 2005. Power, Community, and Racial Killing in
Malone, Zhanda. 2007. “Theising Named IUR Director,” Edwardsville Intelligencer. June 18.
Mladenka, Kenneth R. and Bryan D.
“Urban Politics and Political Science,” Political Science: Looking to
the Future. Volume Four: American
Institutions. William Crotty, ed.
Ronald. 1994. “A Study of State and Local Politics…,” Political Science: Looking to the Future. Volume Four: American Institutions. William Crotty, ed.