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The Australian National University

Thomas Faunce

BA LLB (Hons) (ANU). BMed (Newcastle) PhD (ANU; JG Crawford Prize)

ANU College of Law, Building 5
+61 2 6125 3563
Room 284


Current professional activities

  • Professor jointly in ANU College of Law and ANU College of Medicine, Biology and the Environment (Medical School)
  • Medical School, ANU Chair, Professionalism and Leadership (PAL) Theme.
  • Senior Member, ACT Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (ACAT).
  • Editor, Medical Law Reporter, Australian Journal of Law and Medicine.
  • Member, ANU Central Research Ethics Committee.
  • Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy
  • ARC Future Fellow (2010-2013) 'Fostering Safe Nanotechnology Research Focused on Critical Public Health Problems'
  • Project Director: ARC Discovery Project Grants on: (5)  Advancing energy sustainability by governance leadership in artificial photosynthesis (making fuels from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide) (with A/Prof A Bruce (ANU), Prof M Wasielewski (Northwestern), Prof. N Lewis (Caltech), Prof, S Styring (Uppsala), Prof D Nocera (Harvard), Prof. W Lubitz (Max Planck Institute) (2014-2016); (2) Regulating Nanomedicine Safety and Cost-effectiveness (2007-2009); (3) Detecting Fraud in Australian Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Industries (2010-2012) (with G Urbas and L Skillen); (1) Impact of International Trade Agreements on Access to Medicines in Australia (2005-2007) (with Prof. D Henry and Prof. P Drahos). Also a chief investigator on (4) ARC Discovery Grant on developing Australia's legal response to military and security applications of nanotechnology (2011-2013) (with Hitoshi Nasu).
  • Board of Directors Energy Change Institute ANU (2011-current)
  • Consultant to UNESCO Bioethics and Health Law database (2007-current)
  • Oz reader for the Australian Research Council (ARC) and an expert reviewer for the National Health and Medical Reserch Council (NH&MRC).

Research interests

My main research interest is governance of global artificial photosynthesis and its implications for environmental sustainability. In this area I have published articles in Energy and Environmental Science with leading experts in the field calling for a macroscience Global Artificial Photosynthesis Project and greater collaboration in artificial photosynthesis and organised the first international conference on this theme at Lord Howe Island in 2011, as an official event in the UNESCO International Year of Chemistry. An innovative feature was presentations by top-ranking science students from James Ruse Agricultural High School, Geelong Grammar, Radford College, Canberra Boys Grammar and Narrabundah College. The conference papers were published in a special open source edition of the Australian Journal of Chemistry). I coordinated a second conference on the governance components and funding of a Global Project on Artificial Photosynthesis Project  at Chicheley Hall, the Kavli Foundation rural conference centre of the UK Royal Society 8-10 July 2014. I have been funded by the Australian Research Council to continue this research under a Discovery Project with A/Prof. Alex Bruce (ANU), Prof. Mike Wasielewski (Northwestern), Prof. Nate Lewis (Caltech), Prof. Stenbjorn Styring (Uppsala), Prof. Dan Nocera (Harvard) and Prof. Wolfgang Lubitz (Max Planck Institute). I have argued that a world future society could be powered by artificial photosynthesis in the transition to a Sustainocene epoch where with the economic pressure taken off the natural environment, ecosystems could be accorded legally enforceable rights (through guardians) as a form of plenetary medicine. I have explored the hypothesis that in the Sustainocene governance systems will be ethically and jurisprudentially founded on the eco-centric social virtue of environmental sustainability as well as anthropocentric justice, equality and respect for human dignity. I have evaluated the proposition that given the public health and environmental problems of this age, the moral culmination of nanotechnology is global artificial photosynthesis. I am also concerned about and researching the threat to our social contract, citizen sovereignty, public health and environmental sustainability, of foreign corporations having trade deal rights to challenge before panels of investment arbitrators laws of our democracy alleged to 'indirectly appropriate' their funds.

'Towards Global Artificial Photosynthesis' conference Lord Howe Island August 2011'Towards Global Artificial Photosynthesis' conference Lord Howe Island August 2011Towards Global Artificial Photosynthesis conference Lord Howe Island August 2011Towards Global Artificial Photosynthesis conference Lord Howe Island August 201GAP LHIGAP EESGAP Royal Society

Towards Global Artificial Photosynthesis conference Lord Howe Island August 2011Model for GAPGAP I LHI Stace, Faunce Ho


  • Professor jointly in ANU College of Law (Bioethics, Health Law and Human Rights) and ANU College of Medicine, Biology and the Environment (Chair, Professionalism and Leadership, Medical School).
  • ANU Central Human Reserach Ethics Committee, member
  • ACT Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (ACAT), Senior Member
  • Higher Education Academy, Senior Fellow


Biographical overview

Academic background

Legal Profession

I graduated with arts and law (honours) from the Australian National University in 1982. As a law student I won the prizes for Contracts and for International Air and Space Law and was part of a team (with (as they are now) Prof. Andrew Byrnes, Prof. Vivienne Bath and Chris Erskine SC) which won the Philip C. Jessup Cup international law mooting competition (the first time it had been won by a team outside North America). My arts major was English literature and I also studied philosophy and Japanese. I was President of the ANU Law Society in my final year. I was in a study group with (as they are now) Justice Stephen Gageler (HCA) and Prof. Andrew Byrnes and some of my other contemporaries were Richard Faulks (Snedden, Hall and Gallop) and Prof. Jane Stapleton.

My first job out of law school was as legal associate to Justice Lionel Murphy of the High Court of Australia in 1983. That year the High Court was involved in important decisions about the Australian constitutional power to protect the world's natural heritage in the Franklin River dam case (Commonwealth v Tasmania [1983] 158 CLR 1) Scientology and the Australian constitutional meaning of religion (Church of the New Faith v Comm. Pay-Roll Tax (Vict.) [1982–1983] 154 CLR 120); freedom of speech,(Gallagher v Durack [1982–1983] 152 CLR 238); trial by jury (Chamberlain v The Queen (No 2) [1983–1984] 153 CLR 521); the right to vote (The Queen v Pearson ex parte Sipka [1983] 152 CLR 254) and the political trials of terrorist groups (Alister &Ors v The Queen [1983–84] 154 CLR 404). Between 1983 and 1985 I worked as a barrister and solicitor with Mallesons Stephen Jaques (Davies, Bailey and Cater) in Canberra (living in Queanbeyan during this period). My work here involved general insurance, negligence, childrens court, motor vehicle third party matters. Between 1986 to 1988 I worked with Freehill Hollingdale and Page in Sydney mostly in building and construction law and leasing. During this period I taught yoga and meditation in the evenings. I discussed the transition from this legal background to my current research in global artificial photosynthesis in an article for the ANU College of Law International Advocate journal.

Franklin River Dams Case F111 Photo with High Court judges signatures

Franklin River Dams Case F111 photo with High Court judges signatures (I have deposited the photo with original signatures in the Australian Museum of Democracy)

Medical profession

While studying medicine at Newcastle University NSW I formed the Newcastle Bight Nature Reserve Group whose activities contributed to the subsequent declaration of Stockton Beach as a National Park. I also campaigned against old growth logging at Chaelundi National Park. I graduated from medicine at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales in 1993. My contemporaries at medical school included Kate Armstrong President and Founder, CLAN (Caring & Living as Neighbours) and Kamala Emanuel (social activist).

I practised in Emergency Medicine at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital (under a rural cadetship scheme), and Intensive Care, Anaesthetics and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Canberra Hospital. I also worked as Senior Registrar in Intensive Care at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne Australia (then the largest ICU in Australia) with responsibilities in management of trauma, transplant and cardiac surgery. It was here I treated patients involved in the 2002 Bali bombings. I have published a text on anaesthetic and intensive care physiology and pharmacology which incorporates Australian military medical history and some of my haiku poetry (Faunce TA. The Australian Intensive Care and Anaesthesia Primary Exam. 9th ed. Pirion Press 2009).


I completed a PhD on Governance of the Human Genome Project at the ANU in 2000 (examiners Prof. Edmund Pellegrino, Prof. George Annas, Prof. Don Chalmers) and it was awarded the JG Crawford medal (equal best PhD in all fields at the ANU in 2001), named in honour of John Crawford (economist). This has now been published as 'Pilgrims in Medicine' by Kluwer law International (2003) and in which major concepts such as virtue ethics, human rights and legalism were personified and the text presented in the context of their evolving careers in medicine.

I was appointed to positions as a senior lecturer, then associate professor in the ANU College of Law and Medical School from 2004. At the ANU College of Law I have taught 'Bioethics, Health Law and Human Rights' in undergraduate and intensive graduate courses, as well as 'Lawyers Justice and Ethics' undergraduate course (2004-2006) and the 'Law Reform and Justice' course. I designed and have managed since inception the Professionalism and Leadership (PAL) theme of the ANU Medical School and served on senior committees related to governance of the medical school.

My second book "Who Owns Our Health?; Medical Professionalism, Law and Leadership Beyond the Age of the Market State" (UNSW Press and Johns Hopkins University Press 2010) ) explored governance implications of the hypothesis that the world might one day have a fully privatised health care system (reviewed by Leeder in MJA) (also reviewed in JAMA). My third book "Nanotechnology for a Sustainable World (Edward Elgar 2012) (reviewed in World Future Review) made the case that the moral culmination of nanotechnology was global artificial photosynthesis. I was promoted to Professor jointly to the ANU College of Law and College of Medicine, Biology and the Environment, by the central administration of the Australian National University in 2012.

I was a founding member of the National Biosecurity Centre at the ANU, have served on the board of the ANU Energy Change Institute, the editorial board of the UK Journal of Medical Humanities and edit the Medical law Reporter for the Australian Journal of Law and Medicine. I serve on the ACT Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal in medical professional regulatory matters.

Personal background

Tom Faunce at Settler's Hut Walk Namadgi National Park

Tom Faunce at Settler's Hut Walk Namadgi National Park

I am the eldest son of the Canberra consulting physician Dr Marcus de Laune Faunce, the grandson of Marcus Gordon Faunce, a Lieutenant with the 6th Regiment of the 2nd Light Horse Brigade in the Australian Light Horse, who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, Battle of Romani and Battle of Beersheba (1917) in the First World War. I am the great grandson of Rev. Canon Alured Dodsworth Faunce of Queanbeyan and St Clements Church Yass (1840–1910) and the great great grandson of Captain Alured Tasker Faunce the first police magistrate in the Queanbeyan-Canberra region where he resided at Dodsworth by the Queanbeyan River 1837–1856 and was Captain of the Queanbeyan Cricket team in its earliest years. Direct descendants include Major-General Alured Dodsworth Faunce who fought with the 4th foot in the Peninsular War at the Battle of Salamanca, Battle of Corunna, Siege of Badajoz (1812) and Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro and Thomas Faunce of the 47th Regiment wounded in the capture of Quebec in 1759 at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

I attended Forrest Primary school, then Canberra Boys Grammar School. At CGS I was captain of Eddison House, Vice-Captain of the school (1976), Captain of the 1st XI cricket team (1976) and won the Public Speaking Prize on numerous occasions. I played 1st XV rugby. In the 1976 Higher School Certificate I was first in Ancient History and equal first in English. I wrote a romantic comedy which was filmed and shown on the ABC Prism program. Some of my contemporaries at school were (as they are now) Mark Walmsley (ABC music and Department of Tunes), Richard Glover (ABC radio), George Washingmachine (jazz violin), Prof. David Braddon-Mitchell (philosophy), Prof. Toby Miller (social science), Prof. Jeff Grey (military history), Prof. Geoff Garrett (political science). After school I played a season (1976-77) for Easts in the ACT cricket competition, topping the club 5th grade batting averages with 53. I have a high regard for the Buddhist forest monk Ajahn Thate whom I met in the early 1990's.

I am married to the medieval art historian Roza Faunce and we have a son, Blake. I was Queanbeyan representative for Australia Day 2014. I attend Wesley Uniting Church in Forrest. I am the Queanbeyan Junior Cricket Club delegate to Cricket ACT

Selected media

Family background

Updated: 25 July 2016/ Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law / Page Contact:  HR Officer