This is the webpage for the OAD session at the IAU General Assembly 2022, taking place in Busan, Republic of Korea, Aug. 2-11, 2022.


General information

Session title: Astronomy for Development

Total duration: 7.5 hours (5 sessions of 90 minutes each)

Dates and times:
Session 1: Wednesday, 3rd August 2022; 10:30 to 12:00
Session 2: Wednesday, 3rd August 2022; 13:30 to 15:00
Session 3: Wednesday, 3rd August 2022; 15:15 to 16:45
Session 4: Monday, 8th August 2022; 15:15 to 16:45
Session 5: Monday, 8th August 2022; 17:30 to 19:00

Kevin Govender (Co-chair)
Vanessa McBride (Co-chair)
Richard de Grijs
Thijs Kouwenhoven
Amelia Ortiz-Gil
Michelle Willebrand
Renee Kraan Korteweg
Daniela Lazzaro
Lina Canas
Rosa Doran
Areg Mickaelian
Bonaventure Okere
Hyung Mok Lee
Ajit Kembhavi
Prospery Simpemba
Boonrucksar Soonthornthum

Key Topics:
1. OAD Flagship Projects
2. Global structure in astronomy-for-development – OAD’s Regional Offices
3. OAD Projects – evaluation and future directions; impact of COVID-19 and related projects
4. Interdisciplinary imperatives: synergies between natural and social sciences for the UN Sustainable Development Goals
5. Reviewing the OAD: Past, present and future of Astronomy-for-Development
6. Synergies between IAU structures (OAD, OAO, OYA, OAE, IAU Divisions, etc)

Goal 3 of the IAU Strategic Plan 2020-2030 states “The IAU promotes the use of astronomy as a tool for development in every country.” To realise this the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) seeks to further the use of astronomy as a tool for addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, by capitalising on the field’s scientific, technological and cultural links and impact on society. The OAD represents a major financial and philosophical commitment of the IAU to ensure that astronomy will have a truly global impact on society. As of 2021 the OAD has supported over 200 projects in over 100 countries across the world, and established 11 regional and language offices. The OAD also conducted an analysis of all lessons and trends to date, and established a set of global “flagship” projects, which receive greater focus and are coordinated directly from the OAD. Amidst this ongoing work the OAD has also reacted to more immediate challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, with special activities. Given the scale of activity and the significant global OAD network, this meeting will allow IAU members to engage with the work of the OAD and to contribute to shaping its future. This meeting is thus an ideal opportunity to reflect on the past, present and future of Astronomy-for-Development, and establish the roadmap of such activities in line with the IAU Strategy 2020-2030, as the decade begins.


Program Outline:

What worked very well in the past (2012, 2015 and 2018 GAs) was a combination of invited talks, short talks, panel discussions and brief introductions to individual /posters. The draft program below is split into 5 sessions of about 90 minutes each (note that Sessions 2 and 3 are back-to-back in the program and so they together take 180 minutes). The program outline here may have to be adjusted accordingly depending on the demand for speaking slots.

Session 1 (OAD Big Picture – 90 mins):
– Overview of OAD activities (15 min)
– Invited speaker/s on global context (30 min)
– External review of the OAD (15 min)
– Discussion history and future of astronomy for development (30 minutes)

Session 2a (OAD Projects – 60 mins):
– Short talks on OAD funded projects and volunteer experiences/resources (60 min)

Session 2b (OAD Flagship projects – 60 mins):
– Flagship 1 (15 min) – Sustainable, local socio-economic development through Astronomy
– Flagship 2 (15 min) – Science diplomacy through Astronomy – Celebrating our Common Humanity
– Flagship 3 (15 min) – Knowledge and Skills for Development
– Invited talk describing the situation in the Korean region and initiatives to overcome challenges (15 min)

Session 3 (Regional Structures – 60 mins):
– Presentations and Panel discussion with OAD regional offices (2 half sessions of 30 min each due to the large number of offices – 11 in 2021)

Session 4 (Interdisciplinary imperatives and Collaboration Gateway – 90 mins):
– Short talks demonstrating interdisciplinary needs/examples (30 min)
– Mini-workshop: Introduction to development, for scientists (30 min)
OAD Collaboration Gateway (15 minutes)
– Facilitated discussion: Way forward for interdisciplinary activities (15 minutes)

Session 5 (Synergies within the IAU – 90 mins):
– Invited talk of general interest to all IAU Offices (20 minutes)
– Presentations and Panel Discussion with other IAU Offices (OAO, OYA, OAE – 30 min)
– Presentations and Panel Discussion with relevant Divisions and Working Groups (30 min)
– Concluding remarks (10 minutes)


Rationale (Description of topics)

The topics proposed here have been chosen on the broad principles within that abstract, and considering that this meeting intends to reflect on the past, present and future of Astronomy-for-Development, and to plan the next decade in line with the IAU Strategy 2020-2030.

Topic 1: The three OAD Flagship projects: OAD flagships were chosen based on the OAD’s past project experience, input from regional offices, consultations with development professionals, and an analysis of international trends as relates to the UN Sustainable Development Goals . Out of the five flagships identified through this consultative process, three were chosen by the OAD Steering Committee and are being developed within the OAD. Project proposers in the 2019 call for proposals were given the opportunity to submit proposals for “pilots” for two of these flagships, with the third launching in 2020. More information about the flagships at Topic 2 on the flagship for Science Diplomacy will take advantage of the meeting location to have important discussions around astronomy as a tool for peace, considering the case of one of the regions in the world that is well-known for its cross-border challenges. Discussions will revolve around the relations between North and South Korea, and how astronomy could contribute in some way to peace and development both in this region, as well as other similarly complex regions around the world.

Topic 2: Global structure in astronomy-for-development – OAD’s Regional Offices: The process of establishing regional offices of astronomy for development and language expertise centres is a complex and lengthy process, sometimes taking years before an office is established. Once established there is still the challenge of all offices working together in synergy and delivering on the vision of astronomy for a better world. This topic will revolve around the activities of the many regional offices that have been established and reflect on challenges and opportunities, as well as potential plans to reach regions not currently covered.

Topic 3: OAD Projects – evaluation and future directions; impact of COVID-19 and related activities: The call for proposals has been a key part of the OAD’s portfolio and is where a significant amount of IAU funding is spent. Activities are largely run by volunteers who apply for OAD grants. Discussions here will reflect on what has been funded thus far, what has been the impact of these past-funded projects, how does one evaluate such an impact, and how the process should evolve into the future, including the involvement of the regional offices. Also, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on projects and has stimulated new approaches and activities such as remote teaching and learning using different technologies.

Topic 4: Interdisciplinary imperatives: synergies between natural and social sciences for the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the OAD Collaboration Gateway: It has always been clear within the astronomy-for-development community that in order for the IAU to realise development ambitions through astronomy, there is an important need to engage with development and social science fields. This topic will explore this need for interdisciplinary collaborations and how we should move into the future to ensure maximum societal benefit from astronomy, with specific organisations and individuals invited to participate. The OAD also launched its Collaboration Gateway in 2021, in order to help facilitate such interdisciplinary partnerships.

Topic 5: Reviewing the OAD: Past, present and future of Astronomy-for-Development: The OAD has just undergone its second major external review in 2021. At the start of the 2020-2030 decade this is an ideal time to reflect on the “big-picture” thinking around astronomy-for-development, based on the OAD’s history and future plans. The impact of the OAD’s work over the years will be assessed, along with a reflection on the envisaged impact by 2030

Topic 6: Synergies between IAU structures (OAD, OAO, OAE, OYA, IAU Divisions, Executive Community Working Groups, etc): Given the many activities within the IAU there is a constant need for synergies among its different structures. The focus of the astronomy-for-development activities on the broad UN Sustainable Development Goals means that this work has to interact with all IAU structures in order to explore how the different aspects of astronomy can be used for development. This meeting is the ideal place to discuss the broader IAU contributions to global development, and how we can optimise our collective impact through synergies. This will be in a joint session with all IAU Offices (OAE, OAO, OYA, OAD)


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