Report of the project Philo Day 2021

Report of the project Philo Day 2021

Philo Day 2021 was an online event, held on the 3rd and the 4th of March, where invited university professors, European School teachers, and students shared ideas and reflections based on this year’s theme of change through plenary lectures, workshops, and the ethical dilemma impromptu contest. EEB4 welcomed professors from Belgian universities like the KU Leuven and ULB (among others), as well as guests from European School Mol, Bergen, and Varese. There were 473 participants in total (from S5 to S7 from all language sections of the following schools: EEB2, EEB4, Mol, Bergen, Munich and Varese; Professors from universities such as ULB and KU Leuven). 

Mr CAPILI – Coordinator

“Philo Day 2021 was a new challenge to organize as it was fully online. We had to learn how to use a new feature of Teams (Live Event), create a new activity (the Philosophy Commission), and to figure out how to run the Ethical Dilemma Impromptu online. We learned along the way how to do these things and I think that that’s quite promising for the future. 

The best part of this year’s edition of Philo Day is the involvement of a greater number of EEB4 students who volunteered: we had several emcees, workshop chairpersons, team leaders, etc.

There were a number of things that we could have done better. For instance, we should have started our preparations earlier and we could have run practice sessions and rehearsals. These are all learning experiences that we will keep in mind for next school year, so that we can improve the organization of Philo Day.

I am personally deeply grateful to all the students who stepped up to volunteer. We could not have pulled off this event without them.”

Ava ABHELAKH (Co-chair of the Philosophy Commission):

“Organizing the 1st edition of the Philosophy Commission was a great success. Through the Philosophy Commission we started a conversation about “societal change” that was for both the participants as hosts, enlightening. Organizing the Philosophy Commission was a lot of fun, but it also came with its challenges as it was a new concept. However, we learned to overcome those challenges through teamwork and communication. I believe it was a great learning experience. I can’t wait for PHILODAY 2022!”

Nina CERNOS (EDI participant):

“Philo Day 2021 was definitely a highlight of this school year for me. Not only did I get to compete alongside plenty of very articulate and intelligent people in the Ethical Dilemma Impromptu, but I also had the chance of hosting my own workshop, which was an amazing experience to say the least. “

Johanna ENCKE (Organising team):

“Philo Day felt like holiday camp and working environment at the same time. We escaped for two days from our daily routines and found ourselves emerged in profound debates and discussions. Organizing this event was incredibly exciting, and I would do it again at any time! (Tomorrow? (; )”

Emma STEFFNER (Organising team):

“Philo Day was an amazing and fun experience, especially since many other Projects were cancelled because of Corona. I enjoyed working and discussing with other students and to help organize this event. I hope next year will be just as outstanding as this one!”

Matilda FOGATO (Head of team leaders):

“Philosophy Day 2021 was an awesome experience, despite its online nature, and once again it created the perfect environment for learning about philosophy in an interactive way. Students and teachers from many different European Schools, as well as professors from universities all over the world, got a new chance to connect and share their ideas around the topic of change. As this year’s Head of Teams, I had the honour of organizing this beautiful event, together with many great volunteers, and I hope that these two days will be unforgettable for anyone who participated.”

Mr Matthew PYE (Workshop speaker):

“For me, everything was terrific – I was 300% supported by the students to set things up. A mini technical glitch was fixed immediately. I can’t imagine how challenging the whole thing must have been to run. The questions from the students were excellent. I found the session a bit short to fit everything in. But then teachers are well known for their ability to talk for far too long, so this is not a complaint. Of course, it is a bit weird giving a lecture with no live feedback -speaking into the void is never going to be much fun for anybody. However, I have to say that in all the bits of the day that I did attend, somehow, rather against my expectation I have to say, there was a sense of energy. You deserve an absolutely enormous amount of credit for this. It would have been so easy to cancel everything. Honestly, really very well done. To have the vision, tenacity and courage to do an event under COVID conditions speaks in a very loud and beautiful voice about your character” 

Professor VAN ROSSEM (Workshop speaker):

“Philo Day is a great occasion for pupils to get a glimpse of the world of Philosophy. My impression in the workshop “philosophical dialogue” is that these pupils really enjoyed having a real conversation with each other. We had a small dialogue on the importance of ‘facing painful truths’ as a society (hatred, wars,..) and as individuals (pain, death,…). They also expressed their appreciation for the practical character of this workshop. This leads me to the suggestion to take care of a better balance in the program between lectures and theoretical approaches and philosophical practices in a future edition.”

The student volunteers had an opportunity to develop their organisational, communicative and problem-solving skills. The team leaders were responsible for various aspects of the event: logistics, materials, managing the volunteers, organising the workshops and so on, and experienced a role in leadership.

Participants were able to partake in academic conferences (through the plenary lectures and workshops). Furthermore, students could participate not only as audience members but also as presenters in workshops, members of the philosophy commission and/or competitors in the EDI. Overall, Philo Day was a unique experience which encouraged students to broaden their horizons and cultivate their minds.

An event like Philo Day is prestigious for the school and encourages inter-school exchanges. We sincerely hope that organising Philo Day contributed to the cultivation of a sense of community at school, as so many members of our school were involved in realizing it and making it a success despite the pandemic.