Displayed is Dr. Antonio Thompson, professor of History and Philosophy, at Austin Peay State University. Photo provided through APSU’s Staff Directory.

Austin Peay’s Dr. Antonio Thompson, is a senior faculty professor who teaches various courses on American history, German history, foreign policy, and prisoners of war.

He also has been known to engage his audience by talking about the superhero Captain America and its influence on American foreign policy.

“When you share your research and people are digesting it and seem to enjoy it, it gives you affirmation,” said Thompson.

Dr. Thompson finds sharing research with an interactive audience to be integral to his passion as a researcher and professor.

Dr. Thompson’s research area is primarily World War II and prisoners of war. Thompson came to his research over 20 years ago where he gathered firsthand accounts from people who were in actual battles he studied.

“I got to meet people who were in these battles that I’ve studied my whole life, in this war that I studied my whole life, and to hear from their own words, both Americans and Germans about the experience of the army or the airforce or the navy or what have you,” said Thompson.

Thompson captured many stories during this time and considers himself blessed to capture life and that bit of history.

While going through college, Dr. Thompson worked for Community Action and as a manager for Big Brothers, Big Sisters; two non-profit organizations typically helping with underserved peoples in urban cities. He enjoyed both jobs as he tried to meet the needs of students.

“I always try to meet students where they’re at,” said Thompson.

Of his students, Dr. Thompson believes in equality and the beauty of being human.

“We’re equal, we’re all humans, we’re all sharing the same experience. I try to make everyone feel like they’re part of this, the learning experience, like we’re doing this together.”

Dr. Thompson makes a point of connecting students to resources both on- and off-campus. When students come to him saying that he helped them not only learn history, but with something in their personal lives, he knows that he is in the right profession.

Dr. Thompson is currently in the process of getting his seventh book published and released, and he is grateful to Austin Peay for allowing him to both teach and engage in the writing and research process. He believes that as an educator you have flexibility to continue your research, and research should not be sacrificed to teach or vice versa.

“When you, as a professor, teach a subject that you are passionate about, I do think that that tends to rub off on students. Even if they’re not as passionate about that specific subject, they will learn. You can create a dynamic where you can excel at both researching and teaching.”

Dr. Thompson tries his hardest to preserve the authentic voices and stories of the war veterans that he has interviewed because he believes that those stories matter as they make our history. When writing and researching, Dr. Thompson is not just a historian, he is also a storyteller; he connects his deep passion for both history and literature when he recounts the important messages and experiences of those who are near death or already passed.  

“What is history if its not a story of different perspectives, different viewpoints, diversity, all across the board? That all comes together to create our history. Right? So, that’s important,” said Thompson.