Peter N. Stearns

Peter N. Stearns

Peter N. Stearns

Distinguished University Professor

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. 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 135 books, mainly in social history and world history. From 1967 to 2016 he served as editor-in-chief of The Journal of Social History

Selected Publications

Select Publications since 2000:

  • With Katie Barclay and Sharon Crozier-de Rosa, eds., Sources in World History (2020)
  • With Michael Adas and others, World Civilizations AP edition (2020)
  • With Michael Adas and others, World Civilizations 8th ed (2020)
  • Ed., Death in Modern History (2020)
  • With Marcus Collins, Why Study History? (2020)
  • Industrial Revolution in World History, 5th ed (2020)
  • 2019 Globalization in World History 3rd ed (2019)
  • Time in World History (2019)
  • 2018 Culture Change: exploring cases, causes and consequences (2018)
  • Peacebuilding through Dialogue (2018)
  • Tolerance in World History (2017)
  • Sexuality in World History, 2nd ed. (2017)
  • A History of Shame (2017)
  • Globalization in World History, 2nd ed. (2016)
  • The Industrial Turn in World History (2016)
  • Childhood in World History, 3rd ed. (2016)
  • The Civil War in Global Perspective (2015)
  • Gender in World History, 3rd ed. (2015)
  • Guiding the American University: Challenges and Choices (2015)
  • Peace in World History (2014)
  • Doing Emotions History (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)

Expanded Publication List

Courses Taught


HIST 125 - Introduction to World History

HNRS 240 - Emotions in History

HIST 387 - Peace in World History

HIST 387/PSYC 461/ MGMY 491/ CONF 399/ SOC 395 - Organizing Culture Change


HIST 615/535 Development of Modern Societies

CTCH 792/HIST 535 Globalization in Higher Education

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


"Modernity and the West in Emotions History: A Comparative Challenge," Georgetown University


"Focusing History on Peace," Humana Lecture at Center College

"Fear, Anxiety, and Shame," Moffat Lecture at Marshall University


International Education, University of Turabo Symposium, San Juan

Global Strategies, NAFSA (International Education), Boston


Dissertations Supervised

Kelley Fincher, “All Personnel Profit”: Domestic Labor of Military Families in the Postwar and Early Cold War Era (2024)

Holly Moir, Guiding Children's Consumerism, 1945-2000: Expanding Parental Responsibility (2017)