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 in 2017.
Hansen's research investigates the intertwined histories of mountaineering and modernity. The Summits of Modern Man examined the transformation of the summit position--which had been 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 commercialization and Mount Everest for Harvard University Press.
Hansen was a visiting fellow at the Durham University Institute of Advanced Study in 2018, and previously was a visiting fellow at Cambridge University, the Australian National University, and Harvard University. He is a past president of the Northeast Conference on British Studies, and a current director of the Worcester World Affairs Council. At WPI, Hansen has led multi-year efforts to revise the general education requirements in the humanities and arts, to broaden the criteria for promotion in academic rank, and to 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.
Professional Highlights & Honors
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.