Disarmament Insight


Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Randy Forsberg: A tribute to an inspiration

Dr Randall Forsberg

I first met Randy Forsberg in Brookline Massachusetts in 1987. Famous for having been the leading light behind the Nuclear Freeze initiative in the 1980s, she was a major name with a major reputation to my impressionable 30 year-old self. Visiting the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies with my colleagues from the newly-formed VERTIC, I was more than a little in awe of this Grand Dame of Disarmament. There was no need of course. Randy was not only down to earth and practical, she was respectful of all and, most importantly, she cared about what you had to bring to the debate. So if you were engaged, she was engaged with you. That did not mean agreement however. In fact, the greatest compliment Randy could pay you was to disagree with you. That meant that you had got her attention; that meant that she thought you were worth listening to and disagreeing with.

Randy was one of our Greats. She married academia with activism. She saw the connections between nuclear disarmament and conventional weapons and did more than write about the issues; she acted upon what she knew. One of the many inspired things she did was to set up the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies (IDDS) that produces the Arms Control Reporter – a regular updating of everything that happens pertaining to arms control. Most of us have relied on it and could not have achieved what we have without that fantastic resource.

Her recent work has been to focus on the prevention of war by co-founding Global Action to Prevent War. She had just been honoured as the newly designated Ann and Bernard Spitzer Professor of Political Science at the City College of New York. Randy’s knowledge and experience would have been invaluable in the move towards an Arms Trade Treaty. IDDS published professional manuals on global armed forces, and produced the annual IDDS Database of World Arms Holdings, Production and Trade. Only a few weeks ago, I was recommending UNIDIR’s Arms Trade Treaty research team to contact her and get a reading list – it would have been different to everybody else’s.

Randy died of endometrial cancer in New York, at the young age of 64. She was a mother, a writer, a leader, an inspiration to all of us. Ad victoriam, Randy, ad perpetuam memoriam.

There has been a fund established in her name. To support the Randall Forsberg Scholarship for Peace Research please go to: http://www.idds.org/.

There will be a gathering in memory of Dr. Randall Forsberg on Saturday December 1st, at 1:00 p.m., location: Great Hall in Shepard Hall, The City College of New York, 138th Street & Convent Avenue, New York.

A memorial service for Dr. Randall Forsberg will be held in Boston on December 15th, at 2:00 p.m, Location: MIT's Wong Auditorium at the Tang Center Corner of Wadsworth & Amherst Streets, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

For more information on the life of Randy Forsberg, see the articles in The LA Times, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and on the website of Global Action to Prevent War.

This is a guest posting by Dr. Patricia Lewis, Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).


SandyC said...

Very sad news. I met her when I volunteered for her write-in campaign in Mass. to unseat Sen. Kerry some years ago. This is a great loss not only to her family and friends, but to the community and the world.