Freiwilligeneinsatz | Volunteering

Evaluate essays and get to know the Philosophy Olympiad

You were a participant and want to get a taste of SPO again? You're thinking about becoming a volunteer? You have never participated, but have a philosophical background and are interested in a valuable volunteering opportunity? Then come to the open day. The Philosophy Olympiad needs you!

On December 9, we will meet at the University of Bern - not to award medals, but to evaluate essays.

Since 2006, the Philosophy Olympiad has been organising an essay competition to encourage and connect high school students with an interest in philosophy and to send a Swiss team to the International Philosophy Olympiad. The Philosophy Olympiad in organised by a small team of volunteers, with the help of dedicated helpers who run philosophical workshops and evaluate essays year after year. The number of the latter is growing: in 2006, seven young people sent in essays. In 2023, there were 140. We are very happy about the increasing number of participants in the first round - and they require a big jury! This is where you come in.

Evaluate essays with us!

On 9 December 2023, we invite you to an open day at the University of Bern. We will eat together, evaluate essays and look behind the scenes of the Philosophy Olympiad:

First part

11:30 Lunch

13:30 Info session about volunteering for the Philosophy Olympiad.

Second part

14:30 Introduction to essay evaluation, reading and discussing essays, deciding together which essays qualify for the second round




Your travel expenses can be reimbursed if necessary.

I don't have time all afternoon

No problem. You can come separately for the first part or the second part, and also come later or leave earlier. Just write it in the registration form.

I have time on the day, but can't come to Bern

Write it in the registration form and we will organise a remote participation!

I don't have time on the day, but would like to help with the essay evaluation

Our pre-selection runs from 27 November to 7 December. Help us take a first look at the entries and weed out essays that clearly don't meet the criteria. You can manage your own time and participate online from anywhere. How many essays you look at will be decided individually depending on your capacity. You are also welcome to help with the pre-selection and join us on 9 December!

I don't know if I am qualified to grade essays

If you have been to a final of the Philosophy Olympiad or are studying philosophy (even in the first semester or in the minor!), then you are welcome to participate in the evaluation of the first round. You don't decide alone and you can exchange with experienced volunteers and follow clear criteria. Otherwise you can contact us at philosophy@olympiad.ch. One exception: If you are still eligible to take part yourself and still attend high school, you can only join us for the first part, not the assessment. But you're welcome to participate in the competition.

I generally don't have time then, but would perhaps volunteer another time

Yay! Contact philosophy@olympiad.ch and see below for more info.

I don't want to grade essays, but would volunteer in a different way

Yay! Contact philosophy@olympiad.ch and see below for more info.

Be part of the Philosophy Olympiad!

At the open day you can not only grade essays, you can also find out how to volunteer for the Philosophy Olympiad. You can ask all your questions and we can discuss over a pizza what interests you and where we need help. After all, there's a lot more to an Olympiad like this besides jury work. Here are a few examples of roles in our association that are just waiting to be tackled by you:

  • Juror: No jury, no competition. Throw yourself into the texts of our talented participants. 
  • Workshop leader: The SPO wants to be more than just a competition. We give participants insights into philosophical debates, confront them with big questions and give them tips for philosophising. Your input is needed. Be a tutor or teacher for 1-2 hours. Quench the thirst for knowledge of the young philosophers with a discussion, a game, a lesson, a lecture....
  • "Journalist": Follow our events with your camera or phone. Write reports about our activities or exciting blogposts on philosophical topics of your choice for our website. Thanks to you, our participants will have memories of their experiences - and teachers, sponsors and others will have an insight into what we do.
  • "Coach": Give participants 1:1 feedback for their essays. Help them to pursue their philosophical interests. Answer their questions.
  • "Graphic Designer: Graphic design is your passion? Our annual posters are waiting for your aesthetic input.
  • "Secretary": Emails, letters, databases, excel sheets - even philosophers have to stay organised. Otherwise essays get lost. Scores get mixed up. Questions are ignored. Teachers don't get information for their students. This must not happen! 
  • Event Manager: Plan an exciting programme. Excursions, activities for the philosopy youth of Switzerland. Book rooms, restaurants, hostels. Be there on site. Accompany the participants through a semi-final or final. In Bern, in Fribourg - or soon in your city?
  • Treasurer: You don't mind a bit of accounting? That's the spirit!

Is that a lot of work?

The amount of work depends on the tasks you take on - and you can decide that yourself. Even half a day per year of your time is valuable to us!

And what do I get out of it?  

Acquiring skills (organising, teaching...), meeting interesting people, becoming part of a nationwide and international philo network, free food, great events, passing on knowledge, doing something for the educational landscape in philosophy, helping to shape the future of the Philosophy Olympiad, taking on leadership functions in a unique association, a certificate for your CV... and much more!

Do I commit to anything when I come to the Open Day info session? 

No! It's an informal chance to find out more and get talking.

See you there!

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