International Philosophy Olympiad
The International Philosophy Olympiad (IPO) is an International Science Olympiad, a philosophy competition for high school students. It is organized under the auspices of the FISP (Fédération Internationale des Sociétés de Philosophie) and supported by UNESCO.
The International Philosophy Olympiad was founded in 1993 by philosophy teachers from Bulgaria (Prof. Ivan Kolev), Romania (Prof. Elena Florina Otet), Poland (Prof. Władysław Krajewski), Turkey (Prof. Nuran Direk) and Germany (Prof. Gerd Gerhardt). It started with three participating countries and has now about 40 countries participating.
Format of Competition
Students competing in the Olympiad are given four hours to write a philosophical essay on one of four topics given. The topics are provided in the four official languages of the IPO - English, Spanish, French and German - and the student must choose to write one of these in a language other than his/her own; that is, a native French speaker would not be allowed to write in French.
There are five criteria of evaluation.
- Relevance to the topic
- Philosophical understanding of the topic
- Power of argumentation
Evaluation proceeds in three stages:
- International Jury composed of teachers from different delegations form groups of about 4-5 to read certain number of the essays. Each member of a group reads the same 5-6 essays, then compares notes with other members of the same group and gives his mark/score on a scale of 10. Those above average score of 7.0 from being thus read make it to the next level. No teacher is allowed to read the essay of a student from his/her own country.
- About four members of the International Jury then individually reads those essays which are according to the criteria below:
- Those getting average 7.0 or above in previous stage
- Those having a difference in marking by two jury members of more than 3.0 point
- Those finally making a new average of 7.0 or above are recommended by the international jury to the steering board with five members from the FISP and the international committee. Each person in this board reads each essay individually. The steering board then decides the medals and honorable mentions to be given. They need not accept the ranking of essays as given by the international jury.
Selection and Training
The selection and training process varies from country to country.
In Estonia the selection process, which was initiated by philosopher Leo Luks, consists of two stages. At the first stage, students write an essay at home in their mother tongue. That means, Russian language for Russian minority is also accepted. The national jury (5 members) chooses 10 best essays for the next stage. In the second round (4 days long), finalists spend firstly 2 days together where they participate in different lectures and workshops. After that, the final competition begins, which consists of 4 different parts: 1. 4-hours essay in foreign language, as it is in IPO (maximum 30 points) 2. Test of informal logic (10 points) 3. Test of central philosophical notions and theories (10 points) 4. Oral 1 to 1 debate about one philosophical problem (10 points) Two best students represents the country at the IPO
In Germany there are three stages: a) The best two or three essays of a class (written in German) are sent to the jury (until December, 6th); the good essays will be honoured by a certificate. b) The best 26 essay-writers are invited to Muenster (four days in February), where they write again an essay (in English or French) and hear and discuss two philosophy lectures. c) The two best essay-writers in Muenster represent the country at the IPO (in May).
The IPO selection procedure in Hungary is closely related to and based on the National Students Competition in philosophy, which is embedded in a wide range of National high-school competitions organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Education. All the competitions (mathematics, etc.) are organized in 3 levels, over January - April. The competitions in philosophy involve 11th and mainly 12th grade students, altogether approx. 300 students nationwide. The first, school-level round is based on testing knowledge in history of philosophy (thus emphasizing the relevance of the curricula and maturity criteria). Students with sufficient score are eligible to enter the 2nd round. The second round is about writing an essay, students are free to select one topic out of four. The best papers are selected by a jury of Academics, which consists of Faculty staff members invited by the ME, who will invite the students to the finals, i.e. an oral examination. Hungarian is the only official language all through the national competition levels. The IPO Selection invites the best 30 students after the 2nd round. Under the supervision of the Hungarian Philosophical Society, a new Jury are being invited who will propose the 4 quotations, and they should evaluate all the papers. Students will take part at the IPO selection where all the IPO rules and regulations are respected: essay-writing, bi-lingual dictionary, timing, evaluation criteria, languages, etc. Usually approx. 15 students take part at the IPO selection and the authors of best 2 papers are proposed to participate at the IPO. Students receive assistance from their teachers to participate at the competitions, however the Philosophical Youth Camps and the „Philosophical tea-house” movement (inspired by IPO colleagues in Turkey) may also help students to gain and deepen their interest in philosophy.
The Olympiad is non-funded and thus a totally voluntary effort for both the teachers and students. The selection process, which is organized by Kedar Soni, is in two stages:
- Abhinav Philosopher - objective and subjective tasks online to primarily gauge students logical and verbal reasoning. Held around beginning of December by Abhinav Vidyalay. (school which coordinates the process) Top 20% are selected to the next stage.
- Indian Philosophy Olympiad - Essay round similar in format to the IPO competition. It is held online around January in a time-bound manner.
The two best from the stage 2 represent the country, provided they can fund themselves. Then the training program is held for a couple of weeks, to orient students to systematic philosophy and argumentation. It runs for about 12 hours a day and students need to be accommodated at the venue. Those clearing stage 1 are also invited in order to prepare them for next IPO. After the program, until the IPO, students meet 2-3 times weekly for about 3–4 hours in an online lecture room (video + whiteboard) to discuss essay topics and their arguments.
In 2005, the first year of Norway participating in an IPO, Thor Steinar Grødal just picked his two best philosophy students at Foss high school, in 2006 he and Olav Birkeland picked one each as Foss High School and Oslo Handelsgymnasium were the only ones in Oslo and possibly in the whole of Norway that offered a philosophy course for high school students. Since 2007 a new subject 'history&philosophy' (5 lessons per week in 2nd and 3rd grade) has been introduced to many high schools in Norway, and the selection process for IPO has been tied up to the Baltic Sea Philosophy Essay Competition. 100 Norwegian students from 14 schools participated in this competition in November 2011. In 2012 there was for the first time a 2nd round in Oslo March 23–24 for the 10 best Norwegian participants. These ten went to IPO Oslo 2012 on the extended quota of the host country.
The selection process was initiated in 2005 by Jonas Pfister, and 2006 was the first year Switzerland participated in an IPO. The selection process is organized by the association SwissPhilO, the president of which is Maximilian Huber, a former IPO participant for Austria. From 2005 to 2012, the selection process consisted of two stages, a first round and a second round. Since 2013 the selection process consists of three stages. At the first stage, students write an essay at school or at home. Out of these, the authors of the best essays are invited to a second round, a semi-final, where they participate in workshops and write a second essay in their mother tongue, that is German or French. Again, the authors of the best essays qualify for the next round, the national final, where the students again participate in workshops and write another essay. A jury of five members selects the two best who will represent the country at the IPO.
The USA participated in IPO competitions four times until 2003. In 2001 the IPO was hosted by the USA in Philadelphia. From 2003 until 2011, however, the USA did not participate. At the 2009 December conference meeting of the American Philosophical Association (APA), Eastern Division teacher Joseph A. Murphy met with APA executive director, David Schrader, and told him about the curriculum for a course 'A History of Western Philosophy' taught in Spanish for American high school students in their last two years before university. Over the next year, the course was approved by the Curriculum Committee at Dwight-Englewood School (D-E). David Schrader and William McBride had been discussing ways to reanimate the US philosophy community to re-enter the IPO competitions. Adding Spanish as an official IPO language was seen to be a possible key to doing this. Spanish was added to English, French and German on a trial basis before IPO Vienna 2011. In order to participate in IPO Vienna 2011, Murphy chose two of his best philosophy students who also studied Spanish at D-E. Together they formed the 2011 US Delegation with the blessing of APA.
List of past and future Olympiads
|1995||Stara Zagora, Bulgaria|
|2000||Münster, Germany||Ognyan Kassabov
|2001||Philadelphia, USA||Ute Scholl
||Felix von Lehmden
|2002||Tokyo, Japan||Silvia Crupano
||Vasilescu Ion Gheorghe
|2003||Buenos Aires, Argentina||Torsten Schoeneberg
|2004||Seoul, South Korea||Leopold Hess
|2005||Warsaw, Poland||Mikolaj Ratajczak
||Roberta Di Nanni
|2006||Cosenza, Italy||Efe Murat Balikcioglu
|2007||Antalya, Turkey||Zeynep Pamuk||Daria Cybulska||Alexander Johann
||Elena Alexandra Corbu
|2008||Iaşi, Romania||Jan Seidel
||Conrad Krausche||Arina Cristina Baibarac
|2009||Helsinki, Finland||Sarri Nironen
||Eliza Tymianska||Kristina Kashfullina
Ayse Dilek Izek
|2010||Athens, Greece||Aljaž Jelenko||Kacper Kowalczyk
|2011||Vienna, Austria||Nikolaj Møller||Chang Hyun Choi
|2012||Oslo, Norway||Sarah Yoon
||Kasper Siim Viftrup
Vaclav Masek Sánchez
|2013||Odense, Denmark||Róbert Palasik||Theo Anders
Esteban van Volcem
|2014||Vilnius, Lithuania||Vulpe dan Cristian||Jacob Karlsson Lagerros
|2015||Tartu, Estonia ||To be declared
||To be declared
||To be declared
||To be declared
Juha Savolainen, Pekka Elo, Satu Honkala, Rebecca Cingi (Hrsg.), IPO Helsinki Finland 2009, Publications of The Finnish National Commission for UNESCO no 85, 2010.
- History of IPO
- IPO 2010 page including list of medalists and honorable mentions
- IPO 2011 page including list of medalists and honorable mentions
- Results of IPO 2012 with essays of medalists
- Results of IPO 2013
- Results of IPO 2014
- IPO 2015