Vale Professor Janna Thompson FASSA, FAHA (1942-2022)

25 Jul 2022 9:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

The AAP regrets to announce the death of Janna Thompson on Friday 24 June 2022. She was one of La Trobe University’s longest-serving philosophy academics and an influential contributor to the culture and ethos of the discipline at La Trobe. She served the AAP as President in 1991–92. Throughout her career, she was a powerful advocate for women in philosophy and for greater gender parity within the discipline. She, along with Marian Tapper, authored one of the early reports to AAP Council on the employment of women in the profession (1983–89).

Janna was born in Minnesota in 1942 and did her undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota before completing a B.Phil at Oxford University in 1966. After graduating, she taught at the University of Manchester and then came to Australia to take up a role at Monash University. Janna joined La Trobe in January 1975 and was a Lecturer and Professor in Philosophy at La Trobe for almost 40 years until her retirement in 2011. She served as a Director of the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne after retirement, while retaining an Adjunct appointment at La Trobe. 

Janna was an expert in political philosophy, although her philosophical competence was much wider. She authored five books on reparative justice and intergenerational justice, co-edited two collections, and published over 90 journal articles and book chapters on topics including environmental philosophy and ethics, feminism and labour, women and philosophy, and international justice. She remained an active researcher in retirement, and published her last academic paper on intergenerational justice in March this year. Her list of academic publications is testament to her extraordinary research output and breadth of interests, as well as her ability to recognise and address issues of justice and responsibility before they became more widely known. The quality of her teaching, which ranged over all her research interests and other fields, was valued by her students and much admired by her colleagues.

Janna was also dedicated to public scholarship and political engagement. She had long- standing associations with the labour and environmental movements, and contributed to debates on many issues facing our nation and the world, especially within the trade union movement. Janna’s ability to convey subtle philosophical points clearly to a general audience can be appreciated in her many articles for The Conversation.

Janna was a much-loved member of the La Trobe University community. She was renowned for being a thoughtful and constructive participant at weekly philosophy seminars for many years, and continued to attend seminars and colloquia on campus up until the COVID pandemic. Janna will be remembered for her fierce intelligence and her mission to use philosophy to develop practical tools that could be used to address problems in the world. She was also known for her honesty, directness, and intellectual rigour. Her generosity, acuity and practical orientation to philosophy made her an outstanding supervisor of graduate research students and a wonderful mentor for early career researchers.

Janna was an inspirational philosopher and human being. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her. Her body of work is a striking record of the value of academic philosophy in resolving societal problems, a legacy of which we can all be very proud. Her colleagues and friends also knew her as an impressive athlete. She frequently engaged in demanding cycling events, both in Australia and overseas, and continued to cycle to campus well after her retirement. 


  • 15 Sep 2022 1:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The Commemoration of Janna's life will take place on 19 October 2022, 4-6 pm, at the Gryphon Gallery, 1888 Building, the University of Melbourne. The building is located on the corner of Grattan and Swanston Streets.

    The Commemoration will include a book launch by Dr Philomena Horsley of Janna's crime novel, Lockdown, (Clan Destine Press, 2022). Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

    Please let me have any photos of Janna, if suitable for use during the event.

    RSVP to by 14 October 2022.
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