FM 20: Astronomy for Development
The OAD coordinated a Focus Meeting (FM20) at the 2015 IAU General Assembly titled “Astronomy for Development.” The meeting took place on 13-14 August 2015. Please visit www.astronomy2015.org for more information.
This Focus Meeting was about the global developmental impact that all aspects related to astronomy can deliver. It focused on impact at university and research level; children and school level; and public outreach level. The interdisciplinary nature of this meeting was relevant to all IAU Divisions and the professional astronomy community in general. The manner in which the strategic plan has been designed and the way in which OAD implements it allows for input and innovation from the professional community both to develop the astronomy field globally and to stimulate the developmental benefits arising from the astronomy field. The OAD Regional Nodes and Language Expertise Centres have brought in high level support from institutions and governments all over the world, and drive the “bottom up” approach of the strategic plan. IAU members have played a key role in every stage of implementation of the strategic plan, from its ratification, through to strong participation in its implementation. This meeting served to report back to them in terms of progress, as well as seek input from them in terms of shaping the way forward.
Claude Carignan, UCT SA
Ian Corbett, UK
JP de Greve, Vrije Universiteit/C46 Brussels
Megan Donahue, Michigan State US
Edward Gomez, LCOGT UK
Kevin Govender, IAU OAD South Africa
Ed Guinan, Villanova US
George Miley, Leiden University Netherlands
Khotso Mokhele, NRF SA
Pedro Russo, UNAWE Netherlands
Ian Robson, STFC UK
Kaz Sekiguchi, NAOJ Japan
Robert Simpson, Zooniverse UK
Patricia Whitelock, SAAO SA
Throughout its existence the OAD has worked closely with Division C’s Commission 46 (Education and Development) and Commission 55 (Communicating Astronomy with the Public), with members of the respective Organising Committees playing key roles in the OAD Task Forces. Through these Task Forces the OAD conducts an annual Call for Proposals, which seeks to award funding to innovative astronomy-for-development projects from around the world. Ultimate oversight of the OAD is conducted by the Extended Development Oversight Committee (EDOC) comprising the IAU President, IAU General Secretary, President of Division C, and the 6 members of the OAD Steering Committee.
This Focus Meeting was of interest to all IAU members, and also of interest to all IAU Divisions because of a specific topic on synergies between the OAD and each Division. To stimulate these synergies we hosted a panel discussion during the FM with representatives from all Divisions.
In terms of the content of the Focus Meeting, the OAD has made significant progress in implementing the Strategic Plan 2010-2020. At the GA in 2015 we will be in a position, halfway through the decade, to reflect on impact and plan the way forward. The question of monitoring and evaluation will therefore be a crucial topic and applicable to any education or development programmes conducted by IAU members and beyond. Specific comments on each topic are given here:
1. The IAU Strategic Plan and the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development
2. Synergies between the OAD and IAU Divisions
3. Regional Nodes and Language Expertise Centres
4. OAD Call for proposals and funded projects
5. Global projects relating to Astronomy for Development, including citizen science
6. Monitoring and evaluation across all activities
7. Long term goals for the IAU’s Astronomy for Development activities
8. Fundraising and implementation of special projects
9. Volunteers and volunteer opportunities for IAU members
10. Technological capacity building, astronomical instrumentation and IT
The Focus Meeting had 4 sessions, one for each of the three Task Forces and the final one for the IAU Divisions and the Unconference. The following table lists the schedule of the speakers and a link to their presentations.