Project title: Institute Twinning between the University of Antioquia (Colombia) and the Leiden Observatory
Project leader: Dr. Rafael Martínez-Galarza
In the context of the IAU Strategic Plan, and in parallel to the creation of an Andean Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (Andean ROAD), the Astronomy undergraduate program at the University of Antioquia (UofA) and the Leiden Observatory (LO) have successfully become twin institutions in 2013. This partnership has the specific goals of boosting the development and improving the quality of astronomy teaching and research at the UofA and other institutions in Andean region, by offering to the community an archive of open online courses at the advanced undergrad level, among other activities. In August 2013 two lecturers from Leiden visited the UdeA and taught advanced courses in astrophysics to an audience of at least 80 undergrads from several institutions, and to a broader audience through the live streaming and recording of the lectures, now available online. The courses were graded and successful students were given academic credits upon completion. Additionally, a joint LO-UdeA advisory committee has evaluated the structure and content of the courses offered at the UofA and the National Astronomical Observatory (OAN) in Bogotá, and provided advice on new courses and possible research fields on which the Andean students can carry on their thesis work. The resulting report is also available online. In connection with Task Force 3 activities, two public lectures with ~300 attendees were offered to the people of Medellín, and posted online to reach a broader audience in the region. With this proposal we are requesting funding for a continuation of this program, with the same structure and enhanced objectives, during 2014. Although we keep the twinning spirit of this proposal, we aim at reaching other institutions in Colombia and the Andean Region, through direct participation of their students, as well as replication of the courses and online posting of the lectures.