SOPHIA is at heart a welcoming, open and inclusive community of people who practice philosophy with children [pwc] in Europe.
Philosophy with Children is a general term which encompasses different methodologies for engaging children in group discussion and dialogue about philosophical topics which interest the children.
All Philosophy with children methodologies develop critical and creative thinking and increase confidence in the children, and simultaneously transform the groups of children into communities in which everyone is equally respected.
Through out the 1980’s a number of centres were established to advance philosophy with children in different European countries. Often alone in their country, Europeans were developing materials for practising pwc, creating communities of enquiry with groups of children in schools and in the community, educating teachers in implementing pwc.
It was an exciting time full of possibilities and also challenges. At this time the idea that children could philosophise, and the benefits for children of engaging in philosophical dialogue were not easily accepted by the educational mainstream in most countries, so links with other pwc practitioners were very important for mutual support and development.
The growth of a community between European pwc practitioners culminated in the establishment of “Stichting SOPHIA —The European Foundation for the Advancement of Doing Philosophy with Children” in 1993, with Eulalia Bosch (Catalonia) as its President, and Karel van der Leeuw (the Netherlands) Secretary.
Following the motto of the European Community (now the EU) – ‘ unity through diversity’, SOPHIA supported the development of doing philosophy with children within all the different European cultures and languages, and nurtured the community among practitioners as the foundation for collaborative work and mutual development. Many groundbreaking and innovative projects have resulted from SOPHIA members working together, often funded by the EU. For example pwc projects working with art, citizenship, excluded children, architecture, anti-racism, music, community development and more.
SOPHIA is legally constituted under Dutch law and registered in Amsterdam. Under the current (1993) constitution the Board of SOPHIA is made up of one person representing an organization for doing philosophy with children initially from the Founding Centres: The Netherlands, Hungary, UK (Scotland), Austria, Poland, Catalonia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Spain and The Czech Republic. The following countries joined in 1994: England, Wales, Malta, Greece, Switzerland. And in 2004-5: Belgium, Iceland, Latvia, Slovenia, Norway, Romania, Finland, France, Turkey joined SOPHIA. The Executive of SOPHIA are elected by its members.
By 2004, 28 countries had members on the SOPHIA Board. SOPHIA was growing, so in 2005 the Board voted to re-structure SOPHIA: to slim down the Board to 11 members who could manage the practicalities of the foundation and establish the SOPHIA Network open to all people within Europe who are interested in practicing
Aims of SOPHIA
The aim of the Foundation is the advancement of doing philosophy with children in Europe and/or European cooperation in the field of doing philosophy with children, especially concerning tightening cultural links between European countries.
The Foundation will realise its aims by:
- The organisation of educational projects which are of special importance for mutual relationships between European countries.
- The organisation of European conferences and workshops concerning doing philosophy with children.
- The advancement of an international standard for training those who teach in the area of doing philosophy with children. (Not only school teachers)
- The development of a European curriculum for philosophical inquiry with children and the development and publication of materials related to philosophical inquiry with children.
- The exchange of scholars and students in the area of philosophical inquiry with children between European countries. (Scholars and students are not restricted to schools)
- Co-operation with other institutions like the IAPC, ICPIC and universities.
- All other means to advance the above.
Below is the english translation of the dutch consitituion of stiting sophia, made by karel van der leeuw on may 9th 2005 , with notes in blue indicating the meaning or intention of some articles. this is not a legal translation but rather a translation according to the original intentions of the author (karel van der leeuw).
STICHTING Sophia: European Foundation for THE ADVANCEMENT OF DOING PHILOSOPHY with Children
NAME AND PLACE OF REGISTRATION
The name of the Foundation is “Stichting Sophia; European Foundation for the Advancement of Doing Philosophy with children.” The Foundation is registered in the city of Amsterdam. The Foundation can have administrative centres in other European cities. The Foundation is constituted for an undetermined length of time.
1. The aim of the Foundation is the advancement of doing philosophy with children in Europe and/or European cooperation in the field of doing philosophy with children, especially concerning tightening cultural links between European countries.
2. The Foundation will realise its aims by:
a. The organisation of educational projects which are of special importance for mutual relationships between European countries.
b. The organisation of European conferences and workshops concerning ding philosophy with children.
c. The advancement of an international standard for training those who teach in the area of doing philosophy with children. (Not only school teachers)
d. The development of a European curriculum for philosophical inquiry with children and the development and publication of materials related to philosophical inquiry with children.
e. The exchange of scholars and students in the area of philosophical inquiry with children between European countries. (Scholars and students are not restricted to schools)
f. Co-operation with other institutions like the IAPC, ICPIC and universities.
g. All other means to advance the above.
The capital of the Foundation is composed of donations, bequests (single and annual), grants, personal donations, other acquisitions in particular from organisations who propose members of the Board as described hereafter in Article 4. All expenses of the Foundation will be covered as far as possible out of the interest of the capital and other income of the Foundation.
An explicit decision is necessary for the use of the capital. (The Board can delegate this to the Executive)
1. The Board of the Foundation consists of at least 10 members.
Members of the Board are appointed by the Board after being proposed by one of the organisations mentioned hereafter.
Each of the organisations mentioned hereafter has the right to propose one member for the Board. (The choice of ‘organisation’ is deliberate because ‘organisation’ is not defined and is therefore not restricted to centers or formal institutions)
These organisations are:
– Centrum voor Kinderfilosofie, Universiteit van Amsterdam
– Institut de Recerca per l’Ensenyament de la Filosofia, Barcelona
– Centre de philosophie pour les enfants, Bruxelles
– Center for Philosophy for Children, Bucharest
– Institut for Philosophy of the Academy of Science, Budapest
– Centre for Philosophical Inquiry, Glasgow
– Österreichische Gesellschaft für Kinderphilosophie, Graz
– Centro Português de Filosofia Para Crianças, Lisboa – Centro de Filosofia para Niños, Madrid
– Center of Philosophy for Children, Prague
– Centro Recerca per l’Insegnamento Filosofico, Roma
– Centro Interdisciplinare di Ricerca Educativa sul Pensiero, Rovigo
– Center of Philosophy for Children, University of Sofia
– Center for Philosophy for Children, University of Stockholm
– Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Warszawa
– Arbeitskreis “Philosophieren mit kindern”, Berlin
If in the future other organisations make it known that they wish to participate in the activities of the Foundation they will be given the opportunity to propose a candidate member for the Board.
(Other organisations who have proposed members of the Board since 1993, and who have been approved by the Board, are indicated in the latest Board member list)
The Board decides upon the admission of new organisations who have indicated a wish to participate in the activities of the Foundation.(How the Board decides is deliberately left to the Board)
2. The Board elects from its members a President, a Secretary, a Treasurer and at least 2 other members. These persons form the Executive of the Foundation. The functions of Secretary and Treasurer may be fulfilled by one person.
3. If one or more vacancies occur in the Board, the Board must immediately fill the vacancies.
4. If one or more organisational seat on the Board is absent/vacant, for whatever reason, then the remaining members of the Board or the only remaining member of the Board nevertheless constitute the legal Board.(Either in general or at Board meetings)
5. The members of the Board will get no reward for their activities. However they have the right to claim partial or full compensation for the costs incurred in the fulfillment of their function.
MEETINGS AND DECSIONS OF THE BOARD
1. The meetings of the Board will be organised in one of the countries in which the organisations mentioned in 4.1 are located. (This includes the countries of post 1993 organisations)
2. The Board meets at least once every 2 years. (If only 1 or 2 can be there, they are the Board – see 5.4)
3. Meetings of the Executive are organized when the President thinks it desirable, or if one of the other members of the Executive applies to the President for a meeting with an accurate indication of the points to discuss. If the President does not respond to such a request so that the meeting can be held within one month after the request, then the applicant has the right to call a meeting him/herself under the rules.
4. The calling of a Board meeting is done by the President by letter of invitation at least 2 months beforehand not including the day of the invitation and the day of the meeting.
5. The letter of invitation (to the Board meeting) stipulates the location and time (including date) of the meeting and the agenda.
6. As long as all Board members are present at a Board meeting legal decisions can be made upon all subjects proposed if they are unanimous (decisions) even if the prescription in the constitution for the calling of the meeting have not been followed. (This allows for a situation where all Board members e.g. happen to be at a conference and decide to meet)
7. The Board meetings are chaired by the President. In his/her absence the Board meeting appoints its own Chair.
8. Minutes shall be kept of the decisions of the Board meeting by the Secretary or by one of the others present if requested by the Chair. The minutes are approved and signed during the meeting by those who function as Chair and Secretary.
9. The Board can only make legal decisions during the meeting if the majority of the Board members are present or represented. A member of the Board may be represented during the meeting by another member who holds their written proxy.
10. Members of the Executive can make a decision if all members of the Executive have been given the opportunity to give their opinion by letter, telegraph, telex (e-mail) and none of them opposes this manner of making decisions. A decision made according to (10) – the Secretary makes a report accompanied by the communications of the other members of the Executive and this will be signed by the president and added to the minutes.
11. Every member of the Board has one vote. In so far as the constitution does not require a larger majority, all decisions of the Board are made with an absolute majority (51%) of the actual votes cast.
12. Voting during the Board meeting will be done by voice unless the President thinks a written vote is desirable or one of the members requests a written vote before the vote. Written votes are unsigned and on closed paper.
13. Abstentions are considered non votes. (Thus do not count towards the percentage of number of votes)
14. The President decides all disputes about the vote for which the constitution does not provide.
1. The Executive is responsible for the day to day business of the Foundation and for matters which cannot be postponed.
2. The Executive shall propose the programme of activities of the Foundation to the Board
1. The Executive is entitled to enter into contracts for the acquisition, sale or mortgaging of properties, and also to enter into contracts wherein the Foundation acts as guarantor for a third party or acts as a guarantee (for a mortgage) if and only if the Board has decided so in a meeting in which all the members of the Board were present or represented and with 2/3 majority of the votes. Such a meeting can be replaced by a postal (letter, telex, e-mail) ballot in which all members of the Board have participated and also with a 2/3 majority of the votes. (This is a standard clause in Dutch constitutions, put in by the lawyer)
2. The Executive is entitled to:
a. Make legal transactions for an amount of not more than 2,500 ecus. (euros)
b. Make legal and other representation of the Foundation.
c. Appoint and dismiss employees.
1. The Executive shall represent the Foundation
2. Two members of the Executive acting together can represent the Foundation.
DURATION AND END OF MEMBERSHIP OF THE BOARD
1. Members of the Board are appointed for 4 years. A member appointed as a replacement (for the organisation) resigns at the date of his/her predecessor.
2. Resigning members can be re-elected immediately except those who become 70 years old in that year.
3. The Board shall make a schedule of resignation to ensure that the whole Board does not resign at the same time.
4. Membership of the Board ends:
a. with death
b. If a person is declared legally unfit
c. resignation on paper
d. dismissal according to article 298 book 2 of the Dutch civil code
e. dismissal by a decision of the Board according to the same regulations as are relevant for a change in the constitution.
The Board can decide to appoint advisors. Advisors can join the Board and will have an advisory vote. (This article allows for appointing individuals to the Board)
FINANCIAL STATEMENT, FINANCIAL YEAR
1. The financial year is the calendar year.
2. At the end of each financial year the accounts of the Foundation are finalised. From the ‘books/records’ the Treasurer makes a balance sheet and an account of profit and loss for the preceding year. The financial statement will be presented to the Board within 6 months form the end of the financial year; it may be accompanied by an accountant’s audit. (An accountants audit is not required)
3. The financial statement will be approved by the Board in its 2 yearly meeting.
The Board can decide to open an office for the foundation. The organisation and operation of the office are run according to regulations decided by the Board.
1. The Board is entitled to make regulations about matters not in the constitution.
2. Regulations may not conflict with the law or with the constitution.
3. The creation or change of regulations is made by the Board according to the procedures for changing the constitution. As far as relevant.
CHANGING THE CONSTITUTION
1. The Board is entitled to change the constitution. The decision must be made with a 2/3 majority of the votes in a Board meeting in which ¾ of the members are present or represented. If ¾ are not present or represented a new meeting is called after a minimum 2 months period, and in this meeting the decision to change the constitution can be made by the majority of those present no matter how many.
2. Changes in the constitution do not take effect prior to being deposited legally (with the chamber of commerce). Every member of the Executive is entitled to sign the document in which the constitution is changed.
CLOSING AND DISBURSEMENT
1. The Board is entitled to dissolve the foundation. To do this the Board must follow the same procedures as for changes in the constitution as far as relevant.
2. After it has been dissolved, the Foundation will remain in existence so far as is necessary to disburse its capital and its financial affairs.
3. The ‘winding up’ is done by the Executive.
4. During the ‘winding up’ the regulations of the constitution remain valid as far as possible.
5. If there is a positive balance (after winding up) this will be used in accordance with the aims of he foundation as far as possible.
6. After ending the winding up the financial books and official documents of the dissolved foundation remain for 10 years in the keeping of the person designated by the Board.
For all cases for which neither the law nor this constitution provides, the Executive decides. For this first time the Executive will consist of:
Mr. Alexander Andonov, resident in Sofia, born in
Mrs. Eulàlia Bosch, resident in Barcelona, born in
Mr. Hendrich Breuer, resident in Prague, Mladenovavova 323, born in
Mrs. Daniela Camhy, resident in Graz, Schmiedgasse 12, born in
Mrs. Isabel Campo, resident in Barcelona, born in
Mr. Antonio Cosentino, resident in, born in
Mrs. Marie-Pierre Dautrelepont, resident in Brussels, 20 Rue Henri Wafelaerts, born in
Mrs. Carme Gimenez, resident in Barcelona, born in
Mr. Berrie Heesen, resident in Amsterdam, 2e Atjehstraat 35-II, born in Haarlem
Mr. Karel Lodewijk van der Leeuw, resident in Amsterdam, Linnaeusstraat 91-hs, born in Maastricht July twenty-one, nineteen hundred-and-forty;
Mrs. Mihaela Miroiu, resident in Bucharest, born in
Mr. Felix García Moríyon, resident in Madrid, Fernán Gonzáles 23, 2º-A, born in
Mrs. Zaza Carneiro de Moura, resident in Lisbon, born in
Mr. Robert Pilat, resident in Warszawa, born in
Mrs. Irene de Puig, resident in Barcelona, born in
Mrs. Doina-Olga Stefánescu, resident in Bucharest, Str. Zorileanu 22, born in
Mr. Alexander Stoichev, resident in Bulgaria, born in
Mrs. Gyorgyi Tamassy, resident in Budapest, born in
 In dialogue with Catherine C. McCall (President SOPHIA)
 Transcribed by Catherine C. McCall May 11th 2005