Dr. Craig Upright
Craig Upright joined the Sociology Department in the fall of 2011 as a fixed-term faculty member. He has taught sections of Sociology 150 (Introduction to Sociology), Sociology 216 (Social Problems), 334 (Sociology of Education), Sociology 377 (Social Theory) and Sociology 423 (Race Relations).
His current research interests include the study of contemporary social movements and the multiple ways that food production and consumption influence social processes, in particular the role that cooperative grocery stores played in the development of the contemporary organic food industry. While Wal-Mart is currently the largest single vendor of organic food in the United States, the increased acceptance of these products within mainstream culture took more than three decades to complete. Several states in the Upper Midwest played host to a large community of cooperative organizations starting in the early 1970s, just as the desire for organically grown food gave rise to a new alternative infrastructure that helped solidify the market.
Craig’s interest in food production and consumption issues stem from his experiences in the restaurant industry. Following his graduation from St. Olaf College with a degree in mathematics and English literature, Craig spent several years as a chef and purchasing agent for several fine-dining restaurants in Minneapolis. He opened a small café in St. Paul named “Motor Oil Industrial Coffees” next to an alternative art gallery, where punk- and alternative-rock bands played in the basement on weekends.
Craig chose sociology as the discipline in which he could most effectively teach undergraduates about the opportunities for learning about and engaging in their own cultures to pursue projects of social justice. Before coming to WSU, he taught at the University of St. Thomas and Hamline University in St. Paul and at Grinnell College in central Iowa. Beyond cooking (and eating), Craig enjoys reading, writing, a little arithmetic and riding his motorcycle exploring country roads of southeastern Minnesota. He’s been known to throw a mean though often inaccurately placed bowling ball and likes to play the occasional game of billiards.