Peter Stearns and Donna Kidd have established a new scholarship to support undergraduates working in the field of world history. The awards will go to students with demonstrated need and a strong record in their world history coursework. The scholarships will also encourage the growth History B.A. program’s new track in world history, which the department created in 2020.
Those familiar with Peter Stearns’ career will know about his formative role in the development of world history as an academic field. He was trained as a European historian, but relatively early in his career he began to branch out into research and teaching on topics whose geographic scope transcended national and regional boundaries. While producing several seminal works in the field, he created a new world history course while at Carnegie Mellon University that became part of their general education program. In the 1990s, he chaired the committee to create the first high school AP world history class, and continued to shepherd the development and nationwide growth of the AP curriculum. He continues to publish in the field—his current project is a global history of punishment—and edits a “Themes in World History” book series at Routledge Press (now co-edited with another faculty member in the department, Jane Hooper). He has taught at least one semester of freshman-level world history every year since he first developed the course at Carnegie Mellon in the 1990s.
He has played a central role in fostering the study of world history here at Mason as well. As university provost, he encouraged the inclusion of world history as part of the Mason Core curriculum, and played a key role in creating the undergraduate Global Affairs major, which has experienced phenomenal growth since it was first established in 2004. The new world history scholarship is therefore simply the latest example of his commitment to promoting the study of this field at Mason.
Stearns explains that the motivation behind the new scholarship stems from his continued interest in the field and his belief in its importance. World history is, as he puts it, an “inexhaustible” field of research, and he is constantly looking to promote the study of new topics and themes. He adds, “A grasp of key aspects of the world's past is a vital means of understanding issues and patterns today. That risks sounding formulaic but I believe it deeply a grasp of key aspects of the world's past is a vital means of understanding issues and patterns today. That risks sounding formulaic but I believe it deeply, and it's a major spur to trying to contribute to student work in the field.”
May 15, 2023