Spencer writes in the library, part 1: L’Express and a desk with a view

Written by: Spencer Greenhalgh

Primary Source: Spencer Greenhalgh

This episode of Spencer Writes in the Library took place on Friday, July 11th around 10:30am.


The Spot

Where am I working today?

The desks near the south-east corner of the first floor, right by the south-east stairwell.

What’s a perk of this spot?

It’s a desk with a view – my regular working spot in Erickson Hall doesn’t have windows, so I rarely see what’s going on outside.

What’s a problem with this spot?

A first-floor window means that there’s a view, but it can also mean plenty of distractions. The MSU Food Truck, for instance, is broadcasting a siren call not to go back to Erickson to grab my leftover green curry.

What have I learned in this spot?


The library carries French periodicals! Walking through the stacks to get to this spot, I did a double take when I noticed some bound back issues of L’Express, a magazine that I don’t know much about but remember seeing at a lot of French newsstands.

How would I rate this spot?

4 out of 5 dentists. (Why dentists?)

The Work

What am I working on today?

I spent some time finishing up a draft of a blog post about my recent experience playing through a game of Europa Universalis IV as the Kingdom of France. I’m submitting the post to Play the Past, a blog focusing on games and history. A lot of my first year research projects focused on using games to explore ethical dilemmas and other issues that were rooted in particular historical eras or events, and so I’ve spent some of my free time playing games like EU4 or Civilization V to look at their potential for historical and ethical education. This post is a summary of some of my thoughts.

What’s the highlight from today’s work?

I tried in my post to make some connections with some previous Play the Past posts, including one that brought my attention back to making games as an educational activity. There’s some research out there about the value of having students model scientific or other concepts to assess their understanding of them — is there room for having students make some primitive games to model their understanding of a particular historical or other phenomenon?

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Hi there! My name is Spencer Greenhalgh, and I am a student in the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology doctoral program at Michigan State University. I came to Michigan State University with a strong belief in the importance of an education grounded in the humanities. As an undergraduate, I studied French and political science and worked as a teaching assistant in both fields. After graduation, I taught French, debate, and keyboarding in a Utah private school before coming to MSU, where I plan to study how technology can be used to help students connect the humanities with their lives. I have a particular interest in the use of games and simulations to promote ethical reasoning and explore moral dilemmas, but am eager to study any technology that can help students see the relevance of studying language, culture, history, and government.