Innovative Liberal Arts Master’s Program Coming to UT in 2013

When you hear talk of continuing education programs, it doesn’t typically cover coursework on medieval management techniques or Japanese philosophy.

That’s about to change. Starting in the fall of 2013, UT will offer an M.A. in Human Dimensions of Organizations: a master’s program designed, according to program director Art Markman, for “those currently employed individuals who feel instruction in the liberal arts, social, or behavioral sciences is lacking in their career.”

This is one of the first programs designed to remedy the absence of a liberal arts education and wins notoriety for its humanities-centric approach. Though it sounds risky, the commercial ground here is well-tread.

“Right now companies in need of training typically turn to private consultant firms,” argues program director Art Markman. “What we want to do is take advantage of the fact that we’ve got 67 faculty members associated with the project and use that wealth of expertise to provide an alternative to private-sector instruction.”

Candidates will not only receive human-focused management training that they can apply to their careers; they’ll actually perform the application themselves. In addition to using the archives of the Harry Ransom Center for practice, this capstone course will require each candidate to use the knowledge they’ve gained through the program to solve a problem encountered in their own work lives—a surefire way to guarantee the program makes a difference in the lives of its participants.

In addition to the Master’s program, UT will also be offering a set of professional development seminars—quick, one- to two-day programs on anything from “Company Talk: The Language and Power of Deception” (a seminar offered by professor and computational linguist James W. Pennebaker) to “Organizations Under Stress: Lessons from Counterterrorism” (a talk by Ami Pedahzur on the organizational ramifications of his new book, The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism). Although the seminars are separate from the M.A. program proper, both deal with similar topics and have similar audiences in mind.

“I think the thing to take away from all of this is that it’s an attempt by the University to be more innovative in its educational offerings,” Markman explains. “It’s important that, even as we uphold the traditional model of the public university, we continue to be creative, to innovate. And I think that with HDO, we are.”

Photo courtesy Flickr user Eric E. Johnson.


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