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Hello and welcome!  This website and its future permutations is designed to bring the seemingly disparate things I am interested in together in one place and to keep track of the different things I try to do in my professional life. So to begin with, I have to confess that I consider myself an accidental academic. Although most accidental academics, as a surprising number of people are labeling themselves, have had long and illustrious careers in previous professions, mine is relatively short and it was in teaching at both an elementary and a middle-school level. I raised a family at a young age and considered myself a maker, a dabbler in art, making food, and peace activist. I always thought of myself as being a practice oriented person. That changed when I studied the neurology of language during my teacher education. It was then that I discovered that I love theory  and can do it too. I planned to pursue a graduate degree to research second language acquisition from a cognitive perspective after my two years of teacher training college, but life rarely goes according to plans, yet, here I am.

Thank for your stopping by.

The four areas that I am currently interested in are teaching and/or researching

  • German Language and Culture
  • The Creative Process
  • Community Engagement
  • Puppetry Arts

I am passionate about learning and teaching and currently teach German language and culture at the beginning intermediate level as assistant professor (fixed-term) with the German program in the Department of Linguistics and Languages at Michigan State University.  I have 16 years of experience teaching German in the North American classroom.

I also teach a class on the Creative Process through the medium of performing objects (also known as puppetry arts) at the Center for Integrative Studies in the Arts and Humanities (CISAH) and am affiliated with the Residential College of Arts and Humanities (RCAH) where I usually co-teach classes that involve puppetry with Steve Baibak. In the fall of 2020 we co-taught an “Introduction to Community Engagement” with the focus on creating community in a virtual space involving puppets.

In the context of Community Engaged Learning, I became increasingly interested in an assets based approach as embraced in Appreciative Inquiry and learning about Ganz’s Public Narrative model. 


Pia Banzhaf

Assistant professor, fixed-term

affiliated with Residential College in the Arts and Humanities

Wells Hall B-330
619 Red Cedar Road
East Lansing, MI 48824Phone: (517) 432-1235