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University of California Santa Barbara
Academic Senate Awards

Prior Year Recipients

2018-19 Faculty Research Lecturer Award

Nelson Lichtenstein - History

Nelson Lichtenstein is a Distinguished Professor in the Dept. of History, and Director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy. Prof. Lichtenstein was selected in recognition of his extraordinary achievements, as one of the most important twentieth century US historians working in any field, with specific contributions to American labor history, global capitalism, and political economy. To quote his Department Chair, Professor Sharon Farmer, “Professor Lichtenstein is anything but an Ivory Tower intellectual. He has earned international acclaim not because his intelligence is wedded to ambition, but because his intelligence and creativity are guided by a deep passion for improving and preserving democracy and economic justice.”

Prof. Lichtenstein received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and then held academic positions American University, Catholic University of America, and the University of Virginia before joining UCSB in 2001.  He is the sole author of four major books,  Labor’s War at Home: The CIO in World War II, The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit: Walter Reuther & the Fate of Amer Labor, State of the Union: A Century of American Labor, and The Retail Revolution: How Wal-mart Created a Brave New World of Business. In addition to these books, his has authored numerous articles, and edited several volumes and book chapters. The themes of Nelson’s work are summarized by Professor Richard Applebaum as follows: “Nelson’s writings on the changing nature of industrial production argue that the predominant mid-20th century model of vertically-integrated, nationally-based manufacturing systems (symbolized, in his formulation, by General Motors) has given way in the 21st century to one of global supply chain outsourcing to independent contractors (symbolized by Walmart). This change, he argues, has had significant implications for working conditions both in the United States and globally: it has greatly weakened the bargaining power of unions, resulting in an erosion of workers’ rights.”

There are numerous testaments to Professor Lichtenstein’s outstanding mentorship record, that includes his PhD students that have gone on to independent academic careers at major universities including Yale, Princeton, Loyola, and University of Chicago to name a few.  

Professor Lichtenstein has served on the editorial board of numerous journals. 
He also served, for several years, on the Committee on the UC Code of Conduct for Trademark Licensees, which develops guidelines to protect workers’ rights and to promote environmental sustainability for retailers/manufacturers who hope to use the UC logo and/or sell in a UC store.  

Since its inception, Professor Lichtenstein has led the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy. This interdisciplinary research and education initiative aims to expand public understanding and discussion of important issues facing working people.

Professor Lichtenstein’s accomplishments have been widely recognized by others at the highest levels. He is an elected member of the Society of American Historians – a select group of 400 academics, journalists, novelists and filmmakers whose “members are elected based on their demonstrated commitment to literary distinction in the writing and presentation of history and biography.” Professor Lichtenstein has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations, the University of California Office of the President, the Fulbright Commission and the Oregon Center for the Humanities. From 2009-14, Professor Lichtenstein held a prestigious MacArthur Foundation Chairship, and in 2012, he was awarded the Sol Stetin Award in Labor History by the Sidney Hillman Foundation. In 2016, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Labor and Working Class History Association.  The Academic Senate is proud to recognize the exceptional contributions of Professor Nelson Lichtenstein.