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About the Provost

Provost Peter Stearns

Peter N. Stearns became Provost and Professor of History at George Mason University on January 1, 2000. He has taught previously at Harvard University, the University of Chicago, Rutgers, and Carnegie Mellon; he received his AB, AM, and PhD degrees at Harvard University.

Dr. Stearns has authored or edited over 100 books. He has published widely in modern social history, including the history of emotions, and in world history. Representative works in world history include World History: A Survey; The Industrial Revolution in World History; Gender in World History; Consumerism in World History and Growing Up: The History of Childhood in Global Context. His publications in social history include Old Age in Preindustrial Society; Anxious Parents: A History of Modern American Childrearing; American Cool: Developing the Twentieth-Century Emotional Style; Fat History: Bodies and Beauty in Western Society; The Battleground of Desire: The Struggle for Self-Control in Modern America; American Fear: The Causes and Consequences of High Anxiety; Revolutions in Sorrow: A History of American Experiences and Policies Toward Death in Global Context; and From Alienation to Addiction: Modern American Work in Global Historical Perspective. He has also edited encyclopedias of world and social history, and since 1967 has served as editor-in-chief of The Journal of Social History.

As Provost of George Mason University, Dr. Stearns has worked to expand research capacities, to add or enhance centers of strength such as the arts, biomedical research and education, and public health, and to increase the global activities and educational goals of the university. He has helped establish new facilities to promote teaching excellence and has encouraged a range of interdisciplinary and inter-unit programs. While under Dr. Stearns’ leadership, George Mason University was awarded the 2006 Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education. Also in the area of international education, Dr. Stearns wrote Educating Global Citizens in Colleges and Universities, published in December 2008, and teaches a course on International Higher Education.

In most of his research and writing, Dr. Stearns pursues three main goals. First, as a social historian he is eager to explore aspects of the human experience that are not generally thought of in historical terms, and with attention to ordinary people as well as elites. Second, he seeks to use an understanding of historical change and continuity to explore patterns of behavior and social issues. Finally, he is concerned with connecting new historical research with wider audiences, including classrooms. Dr. Stearns is also eager to promote comparative analysis and the assessment of modern global forces for their own sake and as they illuminate and impact the American experience.