IAU Focus Meeting FM15:
Astronomy for Development

August 28 – 31, 2018



  • Kevin Govender, OAD, South Africa (chair)
  • Ajit Kembhavi, IUCAA, India
  • Renee Kraan-Korteweg, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Katrien Kolenberg, KU Leuven & University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Thijs Kouwenhoven, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU), China Nanjing
  • Paulo Bretones, Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Brazil
  • Areg Mickaelian, Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory, Armenia
  • Boonrucksar Soonthornthum, National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand, Thailand
  • Edward Guinan, Villanova University, United States
  • Edward Gomez, Las Cumbres Observatory, United Kingdom
  • Carolina Odman, SKA, South Africa
  • Sze-Leung Cheung, IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach, Japan
  • Beatriz Garcia, IAU Commission C1, Argentina
  • Pedro Russo, IAU Commission C2, Netherlands
  • Elizabeth Grant, OAD/Centre for Evidence Based Intervention/Nuffield, South Africa
  • Vanessa McBride, OAD/University of Cape Town, South Africa

Scientific Rationale:

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 100 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 will focus on what development (and thus astronomy-for-development) actually means in a global context, highlighting what has been learned so far. It will reach out for input from and discussion with the IAU community.


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



Kevindran Govender

Link to External Website:


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