Professor Profiles

Sara Carpenter

Sara Carpenter, PhD, MA

Associate Professor


Educational Policy Studies

About Me

I came to the University of Alberta following four years of teaching at the University of Toronto. Prior to teaching at UofT, I received my doctoral degree in Adult Education and Community Development (2011, OISE/University of Toronto) and a master's degree in Community Education (2005, University of Minnesota). I have worked as an adult educator in both community organizations and higher education and my research interests are informed by my work with refugee and migrant populations as well as feminist, anti-poverty, and immigrant rights campaigns. 


As a critical education scholar, I consider my work to involve two inner-related lines of inquiry. In one respect, I work with a wonderful group of feminist collaborators to develop the line of Marxist feminist theoretical analysis of education, learning, and social change. In another regard, my training in institutional ethnography leads me to 'study up' into institutions, examining organizational processes in order to better understand the reproduction of capitalist social relations. My research interests include:
  • Marxist Feminist theories of state, civil society, democracy, and social reproduction
  • Young adults, precarity, and social crisis
  • Politics of not-for-profit sector, civil society, and NGOs
  • Reproductive labor in not-for-profit sector
  • Capitalism, neoliberalism, and imperialism
  • Marxist and feminist critical pedagogies and popular education

Current Research Projects

1. Youth in Transition: War, Migration, and 'Regenerative Possibilities' (SSHRC Insight 2015-2020)

2. Postsecondary Education as Prerequisite: Understanding University Access and Bridging Initiatives for Adult & Non-Traditional Learners (SSHRC Insight 2018-2021)

3. Precarious & Non-Status Migrants in Education: Demographic Footholds (KIAS Research Cluster 2019-20)


I teach a variety of courses in Adult, Community, and Higher Education, including foundations, social movement learning, popular education, and learning and work. I also teach graduate courses in research methodology and contribute to our undergraduate program through teaching and learning about the sociology of public schooling. A large portion of my graduate teaching takes place through thesis supervision and mentorship. I work with students with whom I share subject area, theoretical, or methodological interests. Thus, my students work on a wide range of projects from critical theoretical orientations, including access to education, transformation of cultural institutions, migration justice work, and feminist institutional analysis.