Lionhearted Leaders: Erin Okamoto Protsman

October 25, 2022

PNW’s Lionhearted Leaders are faculty recognized for their exceptional work inside and outside the classroom.

Meet Erin Okamoto Protsman, continuing lecturer and a Lionhearted Leader in the Department of Communication and Creative Arts.

What changes have you brought to your discipline?

Last semester I incorporated and expanded a unit on cultural communication to one section of COM 11400 (Fundamentals of Speech Communication). Students analyzed their frames of reference, then gave a speech on one aspect of any culture they identified with and how it impacted how they communicated with others.

We heard speeches on art, sports, and political affiliations, in addition to a wide variety of ethnicities and holiday traditions. Doing a deep dive and having an ongoing, open discussion on how others perceive their world helped students better understand how culture influences how we send, receive, and interpret messages.

What are two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

I had the privilege of receiving a Teaching Incentive Program award in 2020.

I was appointed the Communication and Creative Arts department Basic Course Coordinator in 2019. In this role, I supervise and mentor the graduate teaching assistants who teach our public speaking course. Since I found my love for teaching as a graduate teaching assistant many years ago, I enjoy this opportunity to be a mentor to the TAs and to give back to the program that has given so much to me. It’s a full-circle moment I treasure.

What is your opinion on today’s declarations of false news and communication ethics?

Informed citizens and future leaders should look for truth regardless of previously held beliefs. We must look at data and facts and be open-minded enough to change our minds when verifiable data and facts point to the truth. Being informed on issues of the day takes time and effort, and the convenience of aggregated “news” on social media feeds gives us a false sense of being informed when we may be reading propagandized “news.

It’s essential for us to take the time to verify news as accurate before we spread it, and know the credibility of a source before we consume it, which helps us avoid propagandized news sites whose purpose is to persuade without ethics. Making these small efforts is how we get out of the Post-Truth era.