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Robert Forrant

University Professor Robert Forrant
Robert ForrantDistinguished University Professor, Co-Director, Senior Research Fellow
  • CollegeCollege of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • DepartmentHistory
  • Phone(978) 934-2904

Research Interests

19th and 20th century U.S. history; labor history; immigration history; Lowell and Lawrence, MA history; Great Depression and New Deal


  • Ph D: History, (1994), University of Massachusetts Amherst - Amherst, MA
    Dissertation/Thesis Title: Skill Was Never Enough: the Decline of Metalworking in Springfield, Massachusetts 1900 -- 1970
  • MA: History, (1972), Northeastern University - Boston, MA
  • BA: History, (1970), Northeastern University - Boston, MA

Awards and Honors

  • Teaching Excellence Award - UMass Lowell Department of Regional Economic and Social Development
  • President's Award for Public Service (1998) - University of Massachusetts Lowell


  • Strobel, C., Forrant, R. (2016) "‘Into a New Canoe:’ Thinking and Teaching Locally and Globally about Native Americans on the Confluence of the Merrimack and the Concord Rivers," The New England Journal of History 72:2 pp. 62-75
  • Forrant, R. (2016) "“Massachusetts’ ," Massachusetts Benchmarks 18:1 pp. 17-22
  • Forrant, R. (2016) "With Capital’s Wings Corporate Waste Flies," New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental & Occupational Health Policy 25:4 pp. 588-590
  • Forrant, R. (2015) "Empty mills and zombie cities," Labor History 56:1 pp. 76-82
  • Forrant, R. (2015) "Empty Mills, No Jobs, Zombie Cities,"
  • Forrant, R. (2015) "The Deindustrialization Dynamic: U.S. Industry and Global Competition,"
  • Forrant, R. (2014) "Confronting Decline: The Political Economy of Deindustrialization in Twentieth-Century New England," The New England Quarterly 3 pp. 561-563
  • Forrant, R. (2014) "Review of David Koistinen, Confronting Decline: The Political Economy of Deindustrialization in Twentieth-Century New England.," University Press of Florida, 2013. New England Quarterly 87:3
  • Forrant, R., Siegenthaler, J. (2014) "The Great Lawrence Textile Strike of 1912: New Scholarship on the Bread & Roses Strike," Baywood Publishing
  • Forrant, R. (2013) "City of Possibilities: Lawrence on the Merrimack," Massachusetts Benchmarks 15:1 pp. 12-19
  • Forrant, R., Grabski, S. (2013) "Lawrence, Massachusetts and the 1912 Bread & Roses Strike," Arcadia Publishing, Images of America Series
  • Forrant, R. (2013) "Review of Jefferson Cowie, Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class.," The New Press, 2012. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare 40:2
  • Forrant, R. (2013) "Review of Mario Polese, The Wealth and Poverty of Regions: Why Cities Matter," University of Chicago Press, 2010. Business History Review 87:2
  • Forrant, R. (2013) "Springfield, Massachusetts After the Finance Control Board: Is the Way Clear to a Sustainable Recovery?," New England Journal of Public Policy 24:1 pp. 67-92
  • Forrant, R. (2012) "Review of Jeremy Brecher, Banded Together: Economic Democratization in the Brass Valley," University of Illinois Press, 2011. Industrial and Labor Relations Review 65:3
  • Forrant, R. (2011) "At the Altar of the Bottom Line: The Degradation of Work in the 21st Century," Technology and Culture 52:1
  • Forrant, R., Strobel, C. (2011) "Big Move: Immigrant Voices from a Mill City," Lowell: Loom Press
  • Forrant, R., Strobel, C. (2011) "Ethnicity in Lowell: Ethnographic Overview and Assessment," Boston: Northeast Region Ethnography Program, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior
  • Forrant, R. (2011) "Labor in the New Urban Battlegrounds: Local Solidarity in a Global Economy," Labor History 52:1
  • Forrant, R. (2008) "Chutes and ladders: Navigating the low-wage labor market," Labor History 49:1
  • Tran, L.P., Forrant, R. (2008) "Community-university partnerships: a tool for development in Vietnam? by Linh P. Tranh,"
  • Makrez, H.M., Forrant, R. (2008) "International education's importance in higher education: social and economic impact by Heather M. Makrez,"
  • Forrant, R. (2008) "The promise of engaging in "deep" partnerships.," New solutions : a journal of environmental and occupational health policy : NS 18:2 pp. 157-160
  • Reynolds, J., Forrant, R. (2007) "The North American free trade Agreement: implications for workers in Massachusetts by John Reynolds,"
  • Bailey, K.J., Forrant, R. (2005) "A study of worker burnout in the Massachusetts high technology sector by Kathleen J. Bailey,"
  • Forrant, R. (2005) "Follow the work: A response to Peter Waterman's 'Labour and new social movements in a globalising world system'," Labor History 46:2
  • Forrant, R. (2005) "The accidental republic: Crippled workingmen, destitute widows, and the remaking of American law," Labor History 46:3
  • Gaudet, J.L., Forrant, R. (2005) "The dynamics of the coalitions in the anti-corporate globalization movement: a Massachusetts case study by Jennifer L. Gaudet,"
  • Forrant, R. (2005) "The student city: Strategic planning for student communities in EU cities," Journal of Regional Science 45:4
  • Wilson, B., Forrant, R. (2004) "A lifeline? Is the Massachusetts Nurses Association able to shield Massachusetts RNs from the impact of health care industry restructuring?,"
  • Forrant, R. (2004) "Children of NAFTA: Labor wars on the US/Mexico border," Labor History 45:4
  • Forrant, R. (2004) "Disappearing into North Adams," Public Historian 26:2
  • Forrant, R. (2004) "Industrial sunset. The making of North America's rust belt, 1969-1984," International Review of Social History 49:
  • Forrant, R. (2004) "To save the land and people: A history of opposition to surface coal mining in Appalachia," Business History 46:3
  • Pyle, J.L., Forrant, R. (2002) "Globalization, universities and issues of sustainable human development," pp. xvi
  • Forrant, R. (2002) "Reasonable use: The people, the environment, and the state, New England 1790-1930.," Environmental History 7:2
  • Forrant, R. (2002) "The international association of machinists, Pratt & Whitney, and the struggle for a blue-collar future in Connecticut," International Review of Social History 47:SUPPL. 10 pp. 113-136
  • Forrant, R. (2001) "Approaches to sustainable development: The public university in the regional economy," pp. xv
  • Forrant, R. (2001) "Pulling together in Lowell: The university and the regional development process," European Planning Studies 9:5 pp. 613-628
  • Forrant, R. (2001) "The rise of "the rest": Challengers to the west from late-industrialization economies.," Business History Review 75:4
  • Forrant, R. (2000) "Between a rock and a hard place: US industrial unions, shop-floor participation and the lean, mean global economy," Cambridge Journal of Economics 24:6 pp. 751-769
  • Best, M.H., Forrant, R. (2000) "Regional industrial modernization programmes: Two cases from Massachusetts," European Planning Studies 8:2 pp. 211-224
  • Breznitz, S.M., Forrant, R. (2000) "The geography of industrial districts: why does the biotechnology industry in Massachusetts cluser in Cambridge?,"
  • Forrant, R. (1999) "Global flexibility--shop floor flexibility: what's a worker to do?," New solutions : a journal of environmental and occupational health policy : NS 9:2
  • Forrant, R., Silka, L. (1999) "Thinking and doing - doing and thinking - The University of Massachusetts Lowell and the community development process," American Behavioral Scientist 42:5
  • Forrant, R. (1998) "Forcing the factory of the future: Cybernation and societal institutions.," Industrial & labor relations review 51:4
  • Forrant, R., Flynn, E. (1998) "Seizing agglomeration's potential: The Greater Springfield Massachusetts metalworking sector in transition, 1986-1996," Regional Studies 32:3 pp. 209-222
  • Forrant, R. (1997) "Gastonia 1929: The story of the Loray Mill strike - Salmond,J," Industrial & labor relations review 51:1
  • Flynn, E., Forrant, R. (1997) "The manufacturing modernization process: Mediating institutions and the facilitation of firm-level change," Economic Development Quarterly 11:2 pp. 146-165
  • Forrant, R. (1996) "The Fulton bag and cotton mills strike of 1914-1915: Espionage, labor conflict, and new south industrial relations - Fink,GM," Industrial & labor relations review 49:4
  • Forrant, R. (1995) "Can Workers have a Voice - the Politics of Deindustrialization in Pittsburgh - Hathaway,da," Journal of Economic History 55:1


  • Holyoke: Powerhouse of the Pioneer Valley, 2012-2013 History Institute series, Emerging America, Teaching American History Program - Collaborative for Educational Services, April 2013
  • The Faces of the 1912 Bread & Roses Strike: Lewis Hine as Working Class Observer, February 2013 - Andover, MA
  • Emerging America: The United States Becomes a Superpower - Teaching American History, 2012 - Northampton, MA
  • U.S. Labor History from 1800 Ð 1940, 2012 - Boston, MA
  • U.S. Labor History from 1940 Ð 2012, 2012 - Boston, MA
  • Arturo Giovannitti and the Struggle for Justice in Lawrence, MA, November 2012
  • Immigrants and the 1912 Bread & Roses Strike - Massachusetts Genealogical Society Annual Meeting, November 2012
  • The 1912 Lowell, MA Textile Mill Strike, November 2012
  • The Bread & Roses Strike and Its Lessons for Labor Today - Massachusetts Nurses Association Annual Convention, October 2012 - Springfield, MA
  • The 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike: New Scholarship on a One Hundred Year-Old Event - New England Historical Association Annual Meeting, October 2012 - Merrimack College
  • Lawrence, the Immigrant City: 1912 Ð 2012 - Teaching American History, July 2012 - Dedham, MA
  • Pilot program on the 1912 Bread & Roses Strike, May 2012 - Lawrence, MA
  • United States Labor History, January 2012 - Lowell, MA
  • one-week summer workshop on late nineteenth and early twentieth century industrialization and its social and economic affects - Springfield Public Schools Teaching American History, 2011 - Springfield, MA
  • Taking Center Stage: Conflict and Collaboration in the Peopling of Massachusetts - Presentation on the Bread & Roses Centennial Collaboration and Public History, June 2011
  • Industrialization, Organization and Mill Power in Lawrence, MA, 1880-1920, March 2011 - Andover, MA
  • The Civil War: Race, Reconstruction, and Reunion, January 2011 - Lowell, MA
  • Building Holyoke's Future, May 2010 - Holyoke, MA Heritage State Park
  • The Forge of Innovation: The Springfield Armory and Early Nineteenth Century American Industrial Development - Teaching American History Workshop, May 2010
  • Lowell and the Global Economic Meltdown - University of Massachusetts Inn & Conference Center Speakers Series, December 2009
  • New Challenges and Opportunities in an All-American City: Women Workers and Recent Immigrants in Lowell - New England American Studies Association Annual Conference, October 2009
  • Springfield Public Schools Lecture and Book Group Discussion of Metal Fatigue, October 2009 - Springfield, MA
  • - Massachusetts AFL-CIO Convention, September 2009
  • Convocation Presentation - UMass Lowell Learning in Retirement Association, September 2009
  • The Twists and Turns of the Greater-Lowell Economy - Moses Greeley Parker Lecture Series, March 2009 - Pollard Library, Lowell, Massachusetts
  • United States in Depression and War, January 2009 - Lowell, MA
  • The Cold War Economy and Domestic Politics, 2008
  • Rethinking Cities and Communities in the Context of Globalization and Transnationalism - Trinity College Center for Urban and Global Studies symposium, November 2008
  • - The Institute of Higher Education Workshop on Exploring the Role of the University in Economic Development, September 2008 - University of Georgia
  • United States History since 1945, September 2008 - Lowell, MA
  • Inside and Out: Universities and Education for Sustainable Development, November 2005
  • Are Finance Control Boards the Answer to Job Loss, Shrinking Revenues, and Grinding Decline: The Springfield, Massachusetts and Camden, New Jersey Cases - Committee on Industrial Theory and Assessment Conference, October 2005
  • Springfield Job Loss and the City's Frayed Social Safety Net - Future of Work in Massachusetts Conference, April 2005
  • Greater Springfield Massachusetts Deindustrialization: Staggering Job Loss, A Shrinking Revenue Base and Grinding Decline - Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Urban Studies and Planning Forgotten Cities seminar series, April 2005
  • Globalisation and degenerative productive systems: the case of the Connecticut River Valley Robert Forrant, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Frank Wilkinson, University of Cambridge - Clusters, Industrial Districts and Firms: The Challenges of Globalisation, September 2003
  • Commentator on Regions, Nations and Globalization, panel session, Cooperation, Competition and Industrial Policy - Business History Conference, June 2003
  • The International Association of Machinists, Pratt & Whitney, and the Struggle for Connecticut's Blue-Collar Future - University of Massachusetts Amherst Economic History and Development Workshop, 2002 - Amherst, MA
  • The University and the Challenges of Sustainable Economic Development - Urban Affairs Association Conference, 2002 - Boston, MA
  • Commentator on session Ghosts of Industries Past. - New England Historical Association 2002 conference, April 2002
  • Engineering Postwar Industry, Too Many Bends in the River: The Collapse of the Connecticut River Valley Machine Tool Industry and the Disruption of the Shopfloor Skill Base, 1945-1990. - Hagley Museum and Library Conference, 2001
  • Staff workshop on 19th century working class formation, September 2001 - Lowell, MA
  • Rethinking the Theory and Practice of Enterprise Governance: Labor's Challenges, Labor's Opportunities in the New Economy - Industrial Relations Research Association Symposium, 2000
  • Creative Work Systems in Destructive Markets - International Working Party on Labour Market Segmentation Conference, 2000 - Manchester, England
  • Providence, Rhode Island: Public Policy, Broad-Based Partnerships and the Transition to the New Economy - Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Territorial Development Service, Regional Review of Bergamo, Italy Benchmark Project, Paris, France., 2000
  • Between a Rock and a Hard Place: US Industrial Unions and the Lean, Mean Global Economy - Cambridge Journal of Economics and the Cambridge University Institute of Employment Rights conference on Economic Efficiency and Social Justice, 1999 - Cambridge, England
  • - Economic and Social Research Council Center for Business Research at Cambridge University conference on Corporate Restructuring, 1999
  • Building on Strengths: Helping Local Economies Become More Competitive - Appalachian Regional Commission Conference, January 1999 - Lexington, Kentucky
  • Staff Workshop on 19th Century Managerial Strategies in the Lowell Textile Mills, September 1998 - Lowell, MA
  • Work Rules, Job Content, and the Struggle For Worker Voice on American Shop-floors - University of Massachusetts Lowell Center for Industrial Competitiveness Seminar, 1997 - Lowell, MA
  • The Organizational Failure of the US Machine Tool Industry in the Face of Globalization - International Metalworkers Federation and International Labour Organization Conference: The Machinery Industry: Globalization, Employment and New Enterprise Strategies, November 1997 - Geneva, Switzerland
  • Brimfield Precision and Continuous Improvement - University of Massachusetts Lowell Center for Industrial Competitiveness Seminar, September 1997 - Lowell, MA
  • Educational Program for Industrial Officers and Manufacturing Modernization Field Agents from Moldova, August 1997
  • Shop Floor Skills in the Continuous Improvement and Innovation Process, August 1997 - Westborough, Massachusetts
  • Industrial Modernization and Small Firms in Perspective - Georgia Institute of Technology School of Public Policy and Economic Development seminar on Industrial Modernization: Policy, Practice, and Evaluation, April 1997
  • Collaborating for Success: Implementing Next-Generation Manufacturing Actions - Next Generation Manufacturing Conference, April 1997 - Gaithersburg, Maryland
  • Machine Tools, Technology, and Worker Skills - Tenth Annual Labor Segmentation Conference, April 1997
  • The U.S. Machine Tool Industry and Competitive Advantage - Conference on Organizational Integration and Competitive Advantage in the Automobile Industry, March 1997 - INSEAD Euro-Asia Center, Fontainebleau, France
  • The Manufacturing Modernization Process - University of Massachusetts Lowell Center for Industrial Competitiveness Seminar, September 1996 - Lowell, MA

Contracts, Fellowships, Grants and Sponsored Research

  • 2009-2012 Learn and Serve America Consortium Grant: Building on the Promise (2009), Contract - CORP FOR NATIONAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE
    Forrant, R. (Principal)
  • Service Project Support (2009), -
    Forrant, R. (Principal)
  • GEAR UP Massachusetts - College Readiness Partnership / RTI Grant (2010), Grant -
    Forrant, R. (Principal)
  • Nature of Dogs (now Tough Love), documentary film seed grant (2010), Grant - University Research and Scholarship Council
    Forrant, R.
  • The Science of Small Things (2007), Grant -
    Forrant, R. (Principal)
  • Ethnographic Research Support (2009), Grant -
    Forrant, R. (Principal)
  • Management and Youth Work/Programming (2009), -
    Forrant, R. (Principal)
  • Community Organizing and Youth Services (2008), -
    Forrant, R. (Principal)
  • Performance Stat System (2008), -
    Forrant, R. (Principal)
  • Permitting process form update (2008), -
    Forrant, R. (Principal)
  • Student Assistance to the Department of Program Planning and the Division of Hous (2007), Grant -
    Forrant, R. (Principal)
  • UMass Lowell Graduate School of Education Teaching American History Institute, Scholar-in-Residence (2008), -
    Forrant, R.
  • Merrimack Valley Economic Development Councils Creative Economy Initiative (2008), Grant -
    Forrant, R. (Principal)
  • Kate B. and Hall J. Peterson Fellow (2001), Fellowship - American Antiquarian Society
    Forrant, R.
  • University of Massachusetts Lowell Public Service Endowment Grant (1998), Grant -
    Forrant, R.
  • (1995), Sponsored Research - Center for Industrial Theory and Assessment
    Forrant, R.