Experience evaluation of OAD process

Brief experience evaluation: Athanasios Taramopoulos, Project leader of the OAD funded project “Astronomical Measurements in Ancient Greece”

To the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development:

Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on the initiative to spread Astronomy to ordinary people, school and university students. It is a really amazing science and draws everybody’s attention and excitement.

Secondly, I would like to stress that our experience with the OAD, from the application to the final report was excellent and cannot find something that we would propose you stopped doing. We believe that you should continue working the way you do (announcing calls for proposals which are widespread across the world, trying to fund as many projects as you can –even with partial but adequate for the main project points funding-, trying to have funded projects spread across all the world, monitoring the progress of the projects with intermediate reports and frequent communications with project leaders and evaluating the results of the projects through the final reports, which should also contain qualitative and quantitative measurements of the impact of the project).

One thing that could be improved is the dissemination of the funded projects to the rest of the project teams. Of course the OAD site with all the projects gathered together helps immensely in disseminating the projects to the rest of the world. The same holds for the communications with the OAD in which the teams are encouraged to be informed about other projects, but we propose that a more efficient way would be to start hosting web-conferences with all project teams two to three times a year. During the first conference, a little after projects’ kick off, the project leaders would present their projects to the rest of the funded teams, so that each team may acquire ideas about activities which could be incorporated into their projects. During the second on-line meeting, half way to completion, either project leaders or people and students involved, would present each project’s progress. And during the third meeting, after the end of the projects, each team would present the results of the project and possible future work. This, in our opinion, would improve the exchange of ideas and experiences throughout the OAD funded project teams and initiate collaborations among them, which could also lead to intercultural and international projects. Furthermore, these teams could also be the seeds of an international network of an astronomy oriented community with various teams having experience in different fields through their projects (e.g. conference organization, amateur or professional observations, web portal construction etc) which could successfully undertake international collaborative projects. The OAD could then propose such international projects to the network and seek interested teams to collaborate together and carry out such projects, which would serve OAD’s and IAU’s strategic plan.

(This guest blog was written by Athanasios Taramopoulos, Project leader of the OAD funded project “Astronomical Measurements in Ancient Greece”. Views expressed in OAD guest blogs may not necessarily represent the views of the OAD.)

Response from OAD:

Great idea! We should definitely implement this in the coming call for proposals. Watch this space! (Kevin Govender)