IAU General Assembly 2015 – Focus Meeting 20

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.

FM20.1: Roadmap of IAU Strategic Plan
George Miley The IAU Strategic Plan “Astronomy for Development” – the next decade FM20.1.01
Khotso Mokhele Reflections on the Future of the OAD FM20.1.02
Kevindran Govender Towards “Astronomy for Development” FM20.1.03
Eli Grant Optimising Impact in Astronomy for Development Projects FM20.1.06
Discussion FM20.1.07
FM20.2: Task Forces 1 and 2: University and School Level
Alisher S Hojaev IASS Activity FM20.2.01
Edward Jurua The Role of Astronomy in Development: The Case of Uganda FM20.2.03
Linda Strubbe The West African International Summer School for Young Astronomers FM20.2.04
Kartik Sheth The National Astronomy Consortium – An Adaptable Model for OAD? FM20.2.05
Claude Carignan Web-based Teaching Radio Interferometer for Africa FM20.2.06
Task Force 1 Discussion FM20.2.07
Sandra Benitez Herrera The GalileoMobile Project: sharing astronomy with students and teachers around the world FM20.2.08
Paulo Sergio Bretones Ten years of RELEA: achievements and challenges for astronomy education development FM20.2.09
Pedro Russo EU Space Awareness: Initial implemenation FM20.2.10
Robert Hollow Engaging Indigenous Students in the Australian SKA Project FM20.2.11
Suresh Bhattarai Astronomy Olympiad: An Initiative To Promote Astronomy Education In Nepal FM20.2.13
Task Force 2 Discussion FM20.2.14
FM20.3: Task Force 3 (Public) and Regional Coordination
Silvia Torres-Peimbert Star parties in Mexico, extended to Colombia and China FM20.3.02
Prajval Shastri Reflections on a Multi-stakeholder National Campaign in India around Comet ISON FM20.3.04
Constance Elaine Walker Dark Skies Africa: a Prototype Project with the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development FM20.3.05
Task Force 3 Discussion FM20.3.06
Richard de Grijs The East Asian Office of Astronomy for Development FM20.3.07
Boonrucksar Soonthornthum Strategies for Astronomy Development in the Southeast Asia FM20.3.08
Kelali Adhana Teklr STEM Education as a Gateway to Future Astronomy: the Case of Ethiopian Universities FM20.3.09
Moola Siseho Mutondo Southern Africa Regional Office of Astronomy for Development: A New Hub for Astronomy for Development FM20.3.10
Farid Char The new Andean Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (ROAD) FM20.3.11
Rosa Doran GTTP – Portuguese speaking FM20.3.12
Areg Mickaelian Recent activities in Armenia related to IAU strategic plan and ROAD FM20.3.13
Regions Discussion FM20.3.14
Claus Madsen Astronomy and international science diplomacy FM20.3.15
Poster Plugs – All FM20 Posters FM20.3.15
FM20.4: IAU Divisions and Unconference
Divisions Panel Discussion FM20.4.01
Unconference – Topics from GA FM20.4.02