Carolina S. SarmientoAssociate Professor of Civil Society & Community Studies

My research and practice focuses on learning from the grassroots and building sustainable and creative alternatives that help address inequality and injustice. I investigate the intersection between urban development, governance, and the creation and destruction of cultural spaces in working class communities of color.

In my research, I examine the everyday responses of working class communities ranging from community-based planning, to transnational development, to the creation of new democratic processes and spaces. I also form part of a joint research team studying transnational indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Mexico, and Los Angeles that build economic projects across borders. My research is grounded in community practice.

I helped found El Centro Cultural de Mexico, a center for immigrant rights and community organizing in Santa Ana, California. Working in collaboration with the UCLA Labor Center, I also helped open the Community Labor Project at the University of California, Irvine, a project that seeks to increase the quality, scale, and effectiveness of civic participation in communities of color and low-income populations in Orange County. I am co-founder of MASData, Data for Movement, Action and Strategy. I currently sit on the board of directors of the Worker Rights Center here in Madison.

Selected Publications

Sarmiento, C. S. (2021). Defend, disrupt, and build: Guerrilla urbanist interventions and fighting gentrification in the barrio. Journal of Community Psychology, 49(8), 3178–3193.

Sarmiento, C. (2022). Not diverse enough? Displacement, diversity discourse, and commercial gentrification in Santa Ana, California, a majority-Mexican city. Urban Studies59(9), 433–447.

Sarmiento, C. S. (2020). From Jails to Sanctuary Planning: Spatial Justice in Santa Ana, California. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 40(2), 196-209.

Zastoupil, G., & Sarmiento, C. (2022). Service Learning, Rights to the City, and Justice in Community Practitioner Preparation. Journal of Community Practice, 30(2), 169-180.

Sarmiento, C. S., Sims, J. R., & Morales, A. (2017). Little Free Libraries: An examination of micro-urbanism interventions. Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability, 11(2), 233-253.

For a full list of publications, see Sarmiento’s CV.

Portrait of Carolina Sarmiento, a Chicana woman, with a dark brown braid and black dress.


  • Civil Society & Community Studies

Degree Program

  • PhD Human Ecology: Civil Society & Community Research



  • PhD, Planning, Policy and Design, University of California, Irvine
  • MA and BA, World Arts and Cultures and Urban Planning, University of California, Los Angeles


Office: 4253 Nancy Nicholas Hall

Phone: 608-262-0322