Science Forum South Africa – 2015

Thematic Session: Astronomy for Development

Wednesday, Dec 09, 11:00-12:30, CSIR Convention Center, Pretoria

As the world faces a global refugee crisis; accelerating climate change; widening wealth inequality and unprecedented levels of human trafficking, what role should scientists play? This session provides a platform for critical, evidence-based debate on direct contributions to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that professional science communities can make by leveraging their skills and taking a scientific approach to their engagement with development challenges.
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) partnered with the South African government to pioneer the use of a formal structure for co-ordinating such efforts through the establishment of the Office of Astronomy for Development in 2010. Five panellists reflect on how Astronomy, a classically “blue sky” field, is currently being used in initiatives that tackle SDGs, sometimes in unexpected ways, and how the impact of these initiatives is being measured. The speakers raise challenges and potentially unanswered questions about how professional scientists can engage with development most effectively and efficiently.

ModeratorMr Kevin Govender, International Astronomical Union Office of Astronomy for Development

Panelists:
Dr. Wanda Diaz-Merced an astronomer from Puerto Rico and currently Co-Chair of the National Society of Black Physicists in the United States

Dr Stephanie Dobrowolski Director of the Solon Foundation, Sierra Leone

Mr Sivuyile Manxoyi South African Astronomical Observatory’s Education and Outreach Department

Dr James Chibueze a radio astronomer from Nigeria, currently a lecturer of the Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Nigeria, Nsukka

Eli Grant International Astronomical Union Office of Astronomy for Development and Oxford University

Anita Loots African VLBI Network / SKA Africa

We believe strongly in the significance of the topic to a global and diverse audience, especially given the international nature of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development and its large networks across the world. We therefore opened up this discussion to the world using as many modern communication tools as possible.

Short introductory presentations and remarks by the panellists were followed by an hour of discussion during which we engaged both the physical audience in Pretoria as well as a global audience via Twitter. The entire session was also broadcast live on Skype allowing audiences from around the world (from Gabon, Kenya, South Africa, India, Italy etc) to participate.

The aim of engaging the global community online is to ensure that the discussion could continue after the session is over and last at least for the duration of Science Forum South Africa.

Presentation is available in pdf format

science forum 2015

Panel members of the ‘Astronomy for Development’ session at the South African Science Forum 2015

For more details on Science Forum South Africa, visit http://www.sfsa.co.za/