History and Art History
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Peter N. Stearns

Peter N. Stearns

Peter N. Stearns


Modern European and American and comparative social history, history of emotions, world history

University Professor, Provost Emeritus

World History, Social History, Globalization, History of Emotions

Dr. Peter N. Stearns became Provost and Professor of History at George Mason University on January 1, 2000, serving as Provost until June 30, 2014.  He was named University Professor in January 2011. He has taught previously at Harvard, the University of Chicago, Rutgers, and Carnegie Mellon; he was educated at Harvard University.

During Dr. Stearns' tenure as Provost, George Mason more than tripled its level of funded research and tripled its number of doctoral programs. The establishment of a Teaching Center paralled the establishment of an undergraduate research program and several new interdisciplinary missions. Expanding global partnerships included a growing number of dual degree programs and elaborate connections with students and universities in countries like Brazil, China, Russia, South Korea and Turkey. Dr. Stearns also spearheaded several important initiatives to expand the university’s global presence, namely the establishment of the branch campus in Incheon, Korea; and the collaboration with INTO to increase the number and diversity of students recruited from abroad.  Each of these projects is deeply rooted in a desire to increase global understanding, and opportunities for constructive collaboration among different societies.

Dr. Stearns received the prestigious Mason Medal in 2014; that same year, the university was awarded the Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award for Campus Internationalization.

Dr. Stearns retired as Provost in June 2014 but maintains a robust faculty schedule.  He has published widely in modern social history, including the history of emotions, and in world history; and has authored or edited over 130 books, mainly in social history and world history. Since 1967 he has served as editor-in-chief of The Journal of Social History

Selected Publications

Select Publications since 2000:

  • The Civil War in Global Perspective (2015)
  • Gender in World History, 3rd ed. (2015)
  • Debating the Industrial Revolution (late 2015)
  • Guiding the American University: Challenges and Choices (late 2015)
  • Peace in World History (2014)
  • Doing Emotions History (2013)
  • Demilitarization in the Contemporary World (2013)
  • Satisfaction Not Guaranteed: Dilemmas of Progress in Modern Society (2012)
  • Globalization in World History (2010)
  • Educating Global Citizens in Colleges and Universities:  Challenges and Opportunities (2009)
  • From Alienation to Addiction: The History of American Work in Global Context (2008)
  • Revolutions in Sorrow: American Death Experience and Policy in Global Context (2007)
  • American Fear: The Causes and Consequences of High Anxiety (2006)
  • Anxious Parents: a 20th Century History (2003)
  • Fat History (2002)
  • Consumerism in World History: The Global Transformation of Desire (2001)

Courses Taught

Fall 2015

HIST 125 - Introduction to World History

HIST 387 - Peace in World History

HNRS 240 - Emotions in History

Skills emphasized: writing, analytical argument, comparison.


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

  • Ph.D. 1963
  • A.M. 1959
  • A.B. summa cum laude, 1957

Recent Presentations

Recent Presentations


International Education, University of Turabo Symposium, San Juan

Global Strategies, NAFSA (International Education), Boston

Shame on History: Reviving an Interdisciplinary Approach to a Key Emotion, American Historical Association, New York

Global Education and University Values, Going Global, London



University Leadership Summit, Ponte Vedre, FL: Maintaining Morale in the Higher Education Workforce

SCUP-49, Pittsburgh, PA: Using Strategic Metrics: Measuring One Plan, Building a New One

Taking the Pulse of Our Times: Media, Therapy & Emotions, Spain: Anger Management: Diagnosis of Contemporary Culture Via “The Anger Therapist”

NACUBO, Washington, D.C.: How the Other Half Lives