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History of Philosothon

In 2007 Matthew Wills from Hale School  in Perth Western Australia embarked on a bold new project to promote higher order thinking among secondary school students. The success of Philosothons in WA has largely been due to Matthew's tireless work over the last 14 years in organising teams and stimulus material.

At the first Philosothon nine local high school teams, each including five students came together for an evening of philosophical investigation. The word 'Philosothon' was invented in the first few years of the event by Matthew Wills and Leanne Rucks.


The WA Philosothon grew each year eventually involving 30 schools and all the major WA universities. Philosothon has been hosted by Hale School, Perth College and Trinity College across the years. Currently Philosothon is hosted by APIS in collaboration with the University of Western Australia with the National Philosothon held by the Australasian Association of Philosophy.

In July 2011 Federation of Australasian Philosophy in Schools Associations (FAPSA) decided to host the first Australasian Philosothon at Cranbrook School in Sydney. This came as the culmination of a Winston Churchill Fellowship awarded to Matthew Wills to research ways of creating a National Philosothon. Each Australian state sent three teams (the top three placed teams in each state) and so twelve schools participated in the inaugural event. The three days consisted of speakers, games and Communities of Inquiries. University academics awarded points to students on the basis of their ability to construct an argument collaboratively on interesting philosophical and ethical issues. Encouragement awards were sponsored by the Australasian Association of Philosophy. ABC’s Radio National produced a programme about this event and to listen to the “The Philosopher’s Zone” broadcast on Radio National from 3rd September 2011, please click on the link below: “The Philosopher’s Zone” broadcast on Radio National on 3rd September 2011. Each year since then the Australasian Philosothon has been held in a different capital city. 

Philosothon also provides students the opportunity to progress to the Australasian Philosothon which is held in an Australian Capital city each year. 

The first UK Philosothon happened in 2014 at Kings College, Taunton following a series of seminars run by Matthew Wills as part of a Federal Government grant in the form of an Endeavour Award in 2013. Father Mark Smith and Julie Arliss from the Philosophy & Religion Department at King’s have now spearheaded the Philosothon movement in the United Kingdom in collaboration with Dr Michael Lacewing from Heythrop College and Lizzy Lewis from SAPERE. The first Philosothon took place at King’s College in January 2014. Philosothons have also been held in Europe and Israel.

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