Understanding & Balancing Motivations

Leadership • Ethics • Management Strategy

Seminar Instructor: Elizabeth Richmond-Garza, PhD
Upcoming Course Dates: April 15, 2020

Literature, especially drama, provides concrete and practical cases that help us to understand how ethical decisions are made and to see how ethics and leadership intersect. This course will use dramatic texts to question the nature of ethical challenges and to explore ideas behind human motivation.

Course Description

How can the subject of moral and ethical behavior be taught and understood?

How can leaders better understand the competing motivations being balanced by their colleagues?

Literature, especially drama, provides concrete and practical cases that help us to understand how ethical decisions are made and to see how ethics and leadership intersect. Participants in this course will use dramatic texts to ask the questions: “What is the nature of an ethical challenge?” “How can people reason ethically?” and “How is ethical leadership different from any other kind?”

Drawing upon specific examples, participants will examine their own emotional and personal responses as they face difficult fictional decisions. Through a systematic approach to assessing competing motivations in context, participants will also develop workable definitions of ethical leadership.

Gaining a business advantage is one good reason to read literature, but understanding the motivations of the people you work with is equally as important. Through careful analysis of the motivations and identities at play in the selected scenes, participants will develop strategies for asking themselves productive questions which lead to positive outcomes from conflicted situations in which competing ethical and personal agendas might otherwise lead to negative, or even tragic, consequences.

The goal is to develop attentiveness to those patterns of motivational conflict which might jeopardize the health and productivity of the organization and/or community in question. Hands-on experience with analyzing fictional conflicts will allow participants to develop their own strategies for responding to real-life tensions and pressures in a self-aware and constructive manner.

Details & Registration

Location: UT Austin Campus
Upcoming Courses: April 15, 2020
Time: 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Continuing Education Units (CEUs): 0.7 CEUs will be awarded upon completion of this course (seven hours of instruction)

Seminar Pricing

Seminar Fee Includes:

  • Course Registration
  • Parking
  • WiFi Access
  • Lunch
  • Refreshments
  • Course Materials

If you have questions prior to registering, please see our Professional Training FAQ or contact Miles Husid, HDO’s Marketing Coordinator, at miles.husid@utexas.edu.

Spring 2020

Course Leader(s)

Elizabeth Richmond-Garza is Associate Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, teaching theatre, aesthetics, and fine arts at UT Austin. She also teaches the “Organizational Diversity” course in the HDO Master’s Program. She is the Director of the Program in Comparative Literature and was previously chief administrative and financial officer of the American Comparative Literature Association.

Dr. Richmond-Garza holds degrees from U. C. Berkeley, Oxford University, and Columbia University and has held both Mellon and Fulbright Fellowships. She works actively in eight foreign languages and is renowned for her creative, multi-media approach to teaching. Among other honors, she has been awarded the Chad Oliver Plan II Teaching Award, the 16th annual Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship, and the Minnie Piper Stevens Teaching Award. She was elected to the Academy of Distinguished Teachers in 2004 and was awarded the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award in 2009. She has also offered a series of lectures at the Menil Art Gallery and is regularly invited as a speaker in Dallas, Austin, and Houston.

Who Should Participate?

The majority of participants in our Seminars and Certificate Programs are mid- and upper-level professionals working in the business, nonprofit, government, or military sectors; however, professionals at all levels of experience are welcome to participate. There are no prerequisites for enrolling in an HDO Professional Seminar.

While all HDO Seminars are developed with wide-ranging applicability in mind, the following individuals and groups will likely find Understanding & Balancing Motivations most directly relevant to their work:

  • Senior/Executive Leadership
  • Middle Management
  • Team Leaders & Supervisors
  • Human Resources/Recruiting Directors & Managers
  • Consultants tasked with identifying organizational and/or leadership challenges
  • Any individual or team that faces daily decisions about personnel and information management, decisions that rely upon balancing personal convictions, identity politics, and institutional demands
Out-of-Town Participants

For participants coming in for seminars from outside the Austin area, there are several hotels near campus, many within walking distance.

HDO recommends the following hotels:

HDO works with these many of these venues on a regular basis. If you need assistance selecting a hotel, please contact Jessica Crawford, HDO’s Senior Administrative Associate at jessica.crawford@austin.utexas.edu.

On-campus parking is covered for all participants for the day of their seminar. For transit information, please visit Capital Metro’s website.


Dr. Richmond-Garza was highly engaging and was able to transmit an incredible amount of material to us in only a day’s time. The organization of the material and use of theater techniques was very interesting and useful. What I’ve learned will enable me to pursue a more cognizant and consistent approach to understanding motivation.

– Francis Tsang, Site Lead, Clinical Transformation at University Medical Center Brackenridge


The way Dr. Richmond-Garza conducted the class introductions and facilitated the entire seminar was highly effective. Her use of drama and making the participants part of a cast for a production was quite unique. Our class was also full of international participants. The intimate and global setting enhanced the learning experience.

– Leon C. McCowan, PhD, Associate Pastor, St. James Missionary Baptist Church


The seminar was great. I really enjoyed the professional nature of the course and the caliber of discussion with my fellow participants. The concept of identity and motivation, and how that is taken into account in our personal and professional lives was very thought provoking.

– Lauren Fleming, Program Analyst, Electric Reliability Council of Texas


The seminar was educationally unique. It was absolutely intriguing and engaging.

– Derrick McKnight, Program Manager, City of Austin Public Health


I love the framing of workplace motivation around concepts in theater, film, and art. The course was highly engaging, and I had several “a-ha!” moments around how to take these concepts into my job. Also, Dr. Richmond-Garza is just an extraordinary human, her breadth and depth of knowledge left me a bit starstruck!

– Sarah Gerichten, Director of Marketing, Square Root


Dr. Richmond-Garza’s ability to quickly bring the participants to deep discussions about identity and motivations using literature and movies was one of my favorite elements of the seminar. I will look for videos and stories that illustrate issues and opportunities to explore in my workplace. Attention to detail is superb!

– Jim Smalley, System Director, Organizational Development, Texas Children’s Hospital


I have attended numerous trainings over many years. This instructor is a very talented teacher. It was brilliant how the instructor taught using the analogy of theater and literature. I enjoyed this training and have a great deal that I can bring to my organization.

– Vali Martin, Associate Executive Director, YMCA of Austin