History and Art History
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Peter N. Stearns

Peter N. Stearns

Peter N. Stearns


World History: 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; 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. 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 125 books, mainly in social history and world history. Since 1967 he has served as editor-in-chief of The Journal of Social History

Current Research

Previous courses include:

Applied history [seminar] • Behavioral History • Contemporary European Society • Family history •Gender and World History • Health and society • History of emotions • History of globalization • History of liberalism • History of protest • History of the middle class [seminar] • History and social science  • Human Rights in World History • International Education  • Interdisciplinary Cultural Analysis •  Introduction to Applied History  • Introduction to cultural analysis •  Men’s history  • Modern European History  • Modern French history  • Modernization • Modern social processes •  Peace in World History  • Recent social history • Sex and Death • Western Civilization • Working-class history • World history • Work and leisure

Selected Publications

Select Publications since 2000:

  • 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

Courses Taught

History 125: Introduction to World History (Fall 2014)

History 387: Topics in Global History (Fall 2014)


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

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

Recent Presentations

Recent Presentations


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


Conference on Childhood, Youth and Emotions in Modern History, Berlin: Obedience and Emotion: a challenge in the emotional history of childhood

AASCU Academic Affairs Summer Meeting, San Francisco, CA: Rethinking Global Education: A Constant Invitation To Innovation

U.S. Department of State Speaker Program, Ukraine: Keynote Speaker for Fulbright Ukraine’s 20th Anniversary Conference on Educational Reform

VaCIE Conference, Blacksburg, VA: Internationalizing the Curriculum:  Finding the World in English