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Spring 2020: A Voyage of Discovery
Senior Special Instructor

Elizabeth Sink

Colorado State University

Elizabeth Sink is a Communication Studies instructor with a passion for facilitating healthy engagement across diverse identities. She is approaching her 15th year teaching at Colorado State University and her career aims broadly at empowering students to make the world a better place.

Elizabeth is often teased by her colleagues that she is a mix of Kindergarten teacher and college instructor, because of her inclusion of games, role-playing, guest speakers, residential and co-curricular learning experiences, teaching and learning over shared meals and field trips in her courses. However, she finds that mix stimulates students’ motivation for involvement in their communities, offers a space to recognize personal biases and polarized views, and bolsters communication skills in order to transform conflict into cooperation.

She describes her teaching style and philosophy as “Opticism,” (a mix of optimism and criticism) a term she borrows from, film director and author, Tiffany Shlain. Elizabeth applies this proactive cultural practice of transformative education by weaving the reality of the cultural present with optimism for the future. The practice of “Opticism” is seen in the dialogues practiced in her courses, where constructive and collaborative interactions happen between people who orient around worldviews differently.

In the past decade, Elizabeth has earned several teaching honors at including the Waterpik: Excellence in Education Award, the College of Liberal Arts Excellence in Teaching Award, Instructional Innovation Service-Learning Awards, the College of Liberal Arts Curricular Innovation Award, and the College of Liberal Arts Ann Gill (College Dean’s) Excellence in Teaching Award.

Co-curricularly, she serves as faculty advisor for CSU’s Multi-Faith & Belief Student Council and facilitates two annual events that help bridge communication for those who orient around belief-based identities differently, including “Interfaith Friendsgiving” and “Better Together Day.”

Elizabeth has become an institutionally, regionally and nationally recognized spokesperson in advocating for engagement across lines of diverse religious and nonreligious identities. She has presented about multi-faith and belief diversity at several academic conferences, professional development institutes, nonprofit and civic seminars, radio and newspaper interviews, as well as a TEDTalk: “Interfaith Cooperation: An Invitation for All Beliefs.”

Outside the classroom, Elizabeth and her family enjoy backpacking in the great outdoors of Colorado and Wyoming. She is a self-proclaimed “dog-person” who enjoys deep breaths, rock painting, roller coasters, barn dancing and has been an avid Dungeons and Dragons player for over a decade.