IAU General Assembly: FM15

The 30th IAU General Assembly (GA) was held from 20-31 August 2018 in Vienna, Austria. The OAD organized the Focus Meeting 15 (FM15) on Astronomy for Development. More than 400 participants registered for FM15 which was held over 6 sessions between Tuesday 28th August and Friday 31st August 2018. 

The IAU General Assembly in 2009 ratified a visionary strategic plan which aimed to realise the impact of astronomy on global development. To implement these developmental objectives, the IAU partnered with South Africa’s National Research Foundation in 2010 to establish the Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD), hosted within the South African Astronomical Observatory in Cape Town. Over the years since the OAD has been in place there have been many lessons learned and resources developed to try to optimize the impact of astronomy on development. As of 2017 the OAD had administered over 120 projects that reached over 85 countries across the world; and negotiated the establishment of nine regional offices (based in Armenia, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Jordan, Nigeria, Portugal, Thailand and Zambia) – with two of these offices serving as a joint language centre (Chinese and Arabic), and one serving as a dedicated language centre (Portuguese). In parallel over 600 volunteers registered with the OAD and nine organisations sharing this vision formed partnerships with the OAD. The OAD has thus positioned itself as a space for both the astronomy and development communities to explore and implement ways in which this science can positively influence the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

This meeting focused on what development (and thus astronomy-for-development) actually means in a global context, highlighting what has been learned so far.

Key topics:

  1. The new IAU Strategic Plan
  2. Synergies between IAU structures (Office of Astronomy for Development, Office for Astronomy Outreach, Office for Young Astronomers, IAU Divisions, etc)
  3. Global structure in astronomy-for-development – OAD’s Regional Offices, a resource for IAU members
  4. IAU Funded Annual Call for proposals – history of funded activities and future directions
  5. Volunteers and volunteer opportunities for IAU members
  6. Astronomy Education Research
  7. Evidence-informed project design – how to optimize your ideas and projects
  8. Evaluating impact of projects – how to assess whether a project achieves the impact desired
  9. Interdisciplinary imperatives in astronomy-for-development: synergies between natural and social sciences

For the detailed programme and list of abstracts, visit the conference website

Previous Focus Meeting at the IAU General Assembly in 2015

Some participants of the Focus Meeting on Astronomy for Development at the IAU General Assembly 2018

Some participants of the Focus Meeting on Astronomy for Development at the IAU General Assembly 2018