Professor Robert Forrant


University of Massachusetts Lowell

O'Leary Library, 500A

61 Wilder Street

Lowell, MA  01854


Fall Office Hours: 


Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30-10:45,

12:30-1:30; Thursday 3:00-5:45PM

And always by appointment.

Robert Forrant received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1994.  He is a professor in the Department of Regional Economic and Social Development at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and has been a consultant to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the International Labour Organization. 

He has engaged in research and program evaluation activities for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations International Development Organization, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Massachusetts Department of Education, the Massachusetts Manufacturing Partnership, the International Metalworkers Federation, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

Professor Forrant is the editor of three volumes on sustainable regional development, the author of numerous published articles on industrial development and decline in the Connecticut River Valley and New England, and  New England, and a forthcoming book on the history of metalworking in the Connecticut River Valley with a particular focus on Springfield, Massachusetts, tentatively titled Metal Fatigue.

He serves as a regional economy analyst for the journal Massachusetts Benchmarks and is on the editorial boards of the academic journals New Solutions and Labor History.  Professor Forrant serves as a faculty historian to the “Communities of Scholars—Communities as Classrooms” Teaching American History project directed by the Tsongas Industrial History Center and funded by the United States Department of Education working with Lowell and Worcester, Massachusetts social studies teachers.  At the university he teaches courses in U.S. history (US History Since 1877 43.112), labor studies (Work and Society 43.380), (Work and Technology 57.503) and global development (Development Principals for Developing Countries 57.537) and supervises numerous Master’s Degree thesis students and serves on several Work Environment Department doctoral dissertation committees.  He is the recipient of the University of Massachusetts President’s Award for Public Service, 1998 and the UMass Lowell Department of Regional Economic and Social Development Teaching Award, 2007, 2003 and 1998.  Before completing his graduate education, he worked for many years as a machinist and union business agent at the now closed American Bosch plant in Springfield, Massachusetts. 


Spring 2008 Courses:


Current Research

Massachusetts Benchmarks Initiative regional economic analysis for Northeast Massachusetts, ongoing.  Key economic indicators research project including employment, unemployment, wage and salary information, industry trends and international trade as part of system-wide faculty research team coordinated through the University President’s office.  

University of Massachusetts President’s Office Creative Economy Initiative

Lowell National Historical Park, three-year research project titled "An Ethnographic Study of Lowell, MA: Immigration, Globalization and Enterprise in the ‘All-American City’"


Current Grants
  • Creative Economy Grant
  • Lowell National Historical Park
  • Massachusetts Benchmarks Initiative
Recent Publications

Prospects for the Northeast Region, MassBenchmarks, 2007, volume nine, issue two, 17-22.

Metal Fatigue: The Rise and Precipitous Decline of the Connecticut River Valley Industrial Corridor, Baywood Publishers, in the Series, Work, Health and Environment, forthcoming.

"Greater Springfield Massachusetts Deindustrialization: Staggering Job Loss, A Shrinking Revenue Base and Grinding Decline," New England Journal of Public Policy, 2005, 20 (2) 67-88.

"Adaptive Reuse of Buildings: If it is Already Built, Will They Come?" in Elisabeth Hamin, Priscilla Geigis and Linda Silka, Eds. Preserving and Enhancing

Communities: A Guide for Citizens, Planners and Policymakers, University of Massachusetts Press, 2007, 207-18.

"Greater-Springfield Deindustrialization, A Shrinking Economic Base and Grinding Decline," in Tom Juravich, Ed., The Future of Work in Massachusetts, University of Massachusetts Press, 2007, 73-90.

With Linda Silka, Eds. Inside and Out: Universities and Education for Sustainable Development, Baywood Publishers, 2006.



Past Research

'Seizing Agglomeration's Potential: The Greater Springfield Massachusetts Metalworking Sector in Transition, with Erin Flynn 1986-1996," Regional Studies, 32, 3, 209-22.

Read More


“Work Systems, Corporate Strategy and Global Markets: Creative Shop Floors or a 'Barge Mentality'?" with Suzanne Konzelmann and Frank Wilkinson, Industrial Relations Journal, 2004, 35 (3), 216-32. 

“Globalisation and degenerative productive systems: the case of the Connecticut River Valley,” Robert Forrant, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Frank Wilkinson, University of Cambridge  Paper presented at ‘Clusters, Industrial Districts and Firms: The Challenges of Globalisation’ in honor of Professor Sebastiano Brusco, September 12-13, 2003,University of Modena, Modena, Italy.    

Read More

“The International Association of Machinists, Pratt & Whitney, and the Struggle for a Blue-Collar Future in Connecticut,” International Review of Social History, 2002, 47, 113-36.  Read More

“Between a Rock and a Hard Place: US Industrial Unions and the Lean, Mean Global Economy: Unions on the Shop Floor as the Next Century Approaches,” Cambridge Journal of Economics, 2000, 24 (6), 751-69.   Read More


“Thinking and Doing, Doing and Thinking: the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Community Development Process,” with Linda Silka, American Behavioral Scientist, 1999, 42, (5), 808-20.  Read More

Curriculum Vitae



Metal Fatigue: American Bosch and the Demise of Metalworking in the Connecticut River Valley