Salisbury Labs 107
Affiliated Department or Office
BA Carleton College 1984
MA Harvard University 1986
PhD Harvard University 1991

Peter H. Hansen is Professor of History and Director of International and Global Studies at WPI. In this role, responsibilities include enhancing the curricular components of WPI’s global programs, exploring new partnerships, and advising students in global projects. International and Global Studies brings together faculty from arts and sciences, business, and the global school to enrich students' experience of global engagement on campus and around the world. He enjoys teaching courses in history or international and global studies, seminars on sports or global studies, and working with student teams in WPI's project programs. He is director of the Copenhagen Project Center and has advised student projects in Bangkok, Copenhagen, London, Lyon, Morocco, Namibia, Venice, Washington DC, and Worcester. Hansen was a Fulbright Scholar in France for the Fulbright International Education Administrators Program.

Hansen's research investigates the intertwined histories of mountaineering and modernity. The Summits of Modern Man: Mountaineering after the Enlightenment (Harvard University Press, 2013) examined the transformation of the summit position--reserved for God or the King before the eighteenth century--into a symbol of individual sovereignty and enlightenment. Debates over “who was first” in the ascent of Mont Blanc, Everest and other peaks articulated changing definitions of modernity. Hansen has also published on colonialism, cross-cultural encounters, documentary films, mountains, and WPI's project program. Currently, he is writing a book on Mount Everest and co-edited Other Everests: One Mountain, Many Worlds (Manchester University Press 2024). 

Hansen has been a visiting fellow at the Durham University Institute of Advanced Study, Cambridge University, the Australian National University, and Harvard University. He is President of the Worcester World Affairs Council and a former president of the Northeast Conference on British Studies. At WPI, Hansen has led multi-year efforts to revise the general education requirements in the humanities and arts, broaden the criteria for promotion in academic rank, and institutionalize a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion across the university. His research has reached wider audiences as a lecturer at public libraries and museums and as a commentator for television programs on the BBC, History Channel, and Discovery Channel.

Visit Digital WPI to view student projects advised by Professor Hansen.

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG 3: Good Health & Well-Being

SDG 3: Good Health & Well-Being - Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

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SDG 4: Quality Education

SDG 4: Quality Education - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

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SDG 5: Gender Equality

SDG 5: Gender Equality - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

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SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

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SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

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SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

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SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

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Professional Highlights & Honors
President, 2023
Worcester World Affairs Council
Visiting Fellow , 2018
Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University
Fulbright Scholar, 2017
Franco-American Fulbright Commission
Visiting Scholar , 2005
Center for European Studies, Harvard University
Walter D. Love Prize, 2001
North American Conference on British Studies
Visiting Fellow, 1998
Australian National University, Humanities Research Centre
Fellow , 1997
Royal Historical Society
Visiting Fellow , 1995
Clare Hall, Cambridge University
Fellowship for College Teachers , 1995
National Endowment for the Humanities
Bowdoin Prize , 1991
Harvard University
Fellow , 1984
New York City Urban Fellows Program


Inside Higher ED
New Paths to Full Professor

This Inside Higher Ed article featured work by WPI faculty and administration to clarify the university’s faculty promotion guidelines to better support associate professors and offer options that go beyond traditional research paths.