Meet Assistant Professor Craig Carpenter

Dr. Craig Carpenter in the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics is using his expertise in regional economic development to promote economic opportunities and to educate others on Michigan’s history of economic inequality.

Growing up in metro Detroit, Craig Carpenter became acutely aware of regional wealth inequalities in the state of Michigan at a young age. Carpenter’s interest in inequality led him to pursue a Ph.D. in Michigan State University’s Department of Agricultural Food, and Resource Economics (AFRE). Now as an assistant professor in AFRE, Carpenter is using his expertise in regional economic development to promote economic opportunities and to educate others on Michigan’s history of economic inequality. 

“My research focuses on the use of federal administrative data to examine applied microeconomic questions related to the interaction of race, ethnicity, veteran status, entrepreneurship, inequality and regional economic growth,” says Carpenter. Carpenter’s work in these areas has been awarded three major grants by the United States Department of Agriculture, totaling over 1.6 million dollars, and another from the Russell Sage Foundation

Craig Carpenter Headshot
Assistant Professor, Craig Carpenter

As a member of AFRE’s extension faculty, Carpenter is committed to directly addressing the needs of Michigan stakeholders.  Carpenter says, “My Extension and outreach efforts revolve around leveraging this research to create data-driven policy and programmatic support for community and economic development, including pursuing antiracist public policy education.” 

Carpenter extension efforts have led to the creation of an economic opportunity mapping tool, best practice guides and policy materials to support Michigan’s veteran entrepreneurs, and an educational website on the history of redlining and its legacy of racial discrimination in Michigan.  Reflecting on this work, Carpenter says, “seeing research-driven Extension in action and responding to stakeholder needs is an incredibly fulfilling experience.”

In addition, to Carpenter’s extension and outreach efforts he also teaches the AFRE course Organization of the Agri-Food System.  Students in the course explore the agri-food supply chain from farm to fork, and examine how various sectors are evolving, how they coordinate, and potential implications for farmers, processors, retailers, and regional economic development.  Carpenter says, “My favorite part of teaching is when a student learns about a new topic and it changes their perspective or pursuits. Having a student come up to me and say, ‘I was planning on majoring in something else, but now I want to change my major to something in the Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics Department’ is always exciting.”

Before joining the faculty in AFRE, Carpenter was an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist at Texas A&M University.  Carpenter says being able to return to AFRE as a faculty member has been a wonderful experience for him, noting that since he already knew many of the other MSU faculty, he was able to “hit the ground running.”

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