Vale Professor Browett

Flinders University was saddened to hear of the death of Professor John Browett on 23 May, at the age of 72.

Professor Browett was the Executive Dean of Social Sciences at the time of his retirement in 2009, and a long serving staff member who arrived at the University in the late 1970s.

A private, caring and decisive man with a wicked sense of humour, Professor Browett is remembered for his contributions to geography and to the University, where he worked for many years in the faculty of social sciences including as Deputy Head and Head, prior to his appointment as Executive Dean.

Professor John Browett was a leading force in the creation of the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) at Flinders University. One of the first centres of its kind in Australia in 1981, it captured and contributed to the interdisciplinary field of research and teaching on Third World issues. As a director of the CDS for many years, Professor Browett oversaw a string of discussion papers and conferences on the development issues of the time and is respected for many notable academic publications.

In the early 1980s, he established a Master program in development studies with colleagues from a range of academic disciplines, which is still taught at Flinders today.

Professor Andrew Parkin of the College of Business, Government and Law worked under Professor Browett during his tenure as Executive Dean.

“John was a hard worker and a person with an admirable sense of integrity. His greatest strengths as a Faculty leader were his skills at consultative academic management across discipline boundaries, purposeful task organisation, effective budget and resource oversight, and an eye for administrative detail,” Professor Parkin says.

“He saw himself a loyal servant of Flinders University and an advocate for its staff, its students and its enduring values”.

Professor of Geography Susanne Schech recalls his generous guidance and support of colleagues, and the trust he placed in the capabilities of others. She says he was respected for his ability to listen deeply and for his open door policy, which supported his acute judgement and confidence in decision making.

Graduates from around the world affectionately remember Professor Browett for his mentorship, deep knowledge and inspirational teaching – many sharing their reflections upon hearing of his death. Sue Holden studied her Masters with him in the mid-1990s. Her experience typified that of his students in a message from the UK: “I remember John fondly for his wry and wise support to a fellow Pom, and how, in his droll low-key way, he enabled our eclectic group of international students to flourish at Flinders.”

Death and funeral notices appeared in The Advertiser on Tuesday 28 May. Professor Browett’s funeral will be held on Friday 31 May at 10am, in the Florey Chapel at Centennial Park, Pasadena.


A selection of Professor Browett’s numerous publications include:

Development, the diffusionist paradigm and geography (1980)

On the Necessity and Inevitability of Uneven Spatial Development Under Capitalism (1984)

Into the Cul de Sac of the Dependency Paradigm with A. G. Frank1 (1981)

Out of the Dependency Perspective (1982)

The Newly Industrialising Countries and Radical Theories of Development(1985)

On the Role of Geography in Development Geography (2008)

Revolutionary and evolutionary change in human geography: a personal assessment (2008)

Shifts in the Global Capitalist Economy and the National Economic Domain (2008)


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