Course Descriptions

The following courses are available for your custom business needs. Please contact us to bring some of The University of Texas at Austin’s most esteemed faculty to your workplace.

HDO also offers select Professional Seminars for the general public. These day-long, open-enrollment classes are hosted on the UT Austin campus. At this time, Dr. Art Markman’s Maximizing Mental Agility and Dr. Raj Raghunathan’s Creativity and Leadership are available. Enroll here.


Writing Persuasive Business Proposals

Business proposals are persuasive arguments. In this course, Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Writing Clay Spinuzzi will teach participants how to take these proposals apart, examine their underlying components, and put them back together in ways that make them more persuasive. The class will allow time for attendees to apply these new skills to their own work.

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Thinking about Right and Wrong

How do we determine the moral value of actions? How does culture influence the ways in which people decide about right and wrong? Is there a universal or common morality shared by people in all cultures? This course, lead by Religious Studies Professor John Traphagan, explores moral decision-making in different cultures and examines the ways in which humans vary in their concepts of right and wrong.

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 Maximizing Mental Agility

February 1, 2013

This course, taught by HDO Director Arthur Markman, focuses on six areas of thinking that provide easy-to-learn strategies rooted in Cognitive Science that will help people become more productive, efficient, creative, motivated, and satisfied in their working lives and beyond.

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Working Successfully with Your Client: Effective Techniques from Psychoanalysis

Effective communication is at the core of provider-client relationships. This seminar, taught by Associate Professor of Architecture Elizabeth Danze and Adjunct Professor of Architecture and psychoanalyst Stephen Sonnenberg, MD, will examine in detail the challenge of designing a unique facility providing arts education for troubled teens and vocational training for unskilled young adults, to illustrate, examine, and train participants in communication skills derived from psychoanalysis. These skills are learning to: (1) listen to clients and understand their interests and needs; (2) help clients define and redefine what they want to accomplish and what they expect from you; (3) negotiate goals and expectations with clients; (4) put themselves in the shoes of clients to better understand their histories, goals, and expectations; (5) examine their personal roles in these relationships, including difficult roles such when the client feels you have erred; and (6) convey confidence that you can get the job done and meet the client’s expectations.

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Creativity and Leadership

April 5, 2013

Conventional notions of leadership hold that true leaders are famous, powerful, visionary, and charismatic with a large fan following. In the alternative perspective offered in this course, Marketing Professor Raj Raghunathan shows that true leadership is born of a dedication to (1) identifying and pursuing intrinsic interests and (2) taking personal responsibility for manifesting the traits one wants to see in others. Discussions and exercises will help students learn how to align one’s life according to these principles.

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Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: Presenting and Evaluating Quantitative Information


Quantitative information can be deceiving. This course, led by Sociology Professor Pamela Paxton, will (1) introduce students to the best ways to present quantitative data graphically, in tables, and with simple visualizations; (2) alert them to the ways in which quantitative data can be used to mislead; and (3) provide basic tools to evaluate presentations and proposals that include quantitative information. Attendees will leave the course better producers and consumers of data and information.

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Company Talk: The Language of Power and Deception

This one-day course, led by Psychology Professor James Pennebaker and Linguistics Professor David Beaver, explores the way language reflects our social status and our psychological states. Participants will learn to use language to motivate or to persuade, whether in advertising messaging, customer relations, or workplace interactions.

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Flourishing in the Workplace: Strengths, Flow, and Effective Thinking

Businesses succeed when workers are inspired to achieve their optimal level of functioning. This seminar, led by Psychology Professor Caryn Carlson and Mathematics Professor Michael Starbird, will show that successful business development depends not only on productivity, but also on employees’ overall well-being. Attendees will learn specific strategies to encourage themselves and their employees to know and utilize their personal strengths, achieve flow in their work, and develop their own creativity.

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Ethical Choices / Leadership Challenges: Understanding and Balancing Motivation on the Stage and in Life

Literature, especially drama, provides concrete cases that help us to understand how ethical decisions are made and how ethics and leadership intersect. Through analysis of the motivations at play in selected dramatic scenes, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature Elizabeth Richmond-Garza will teach participants to develop strategies for asking productive questions that lead to positive outcomes. Attendees will develop attentiveness to patterns of motivational conflict which might jeopardize the health and productivity of the organization and/or community in question.

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