IAU Focus Meeting FM15:
Astronomy for Development

August 28 – 31, 2018

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




Abstract list for FM15
Poster list for FM15

Tuesday, 28. Aug.

Big picture: Astronomy for Development
room: C
15:30 - Takalani Nemaungani and Piero Benvenuti (Welcome)
15:35 - Vanessa McBride, Ramasamy Venugopal (Overview of the OAD: Achievements, Challenges and Plans)
15:50 - Mokhele, Khotso (Reflections on Astronomy for Development)
16:10 - Hackmann, Heide (Broader landscape of Science for Development)
16:30 - van Dishoeck, Ewine (IAU Strategic Plan and the OAD part of that plan)
16:50 - Chair (Discussion)


Wednesday, 29. Aug.

Synergies within the IAU
room: C
10:30 - Sze-Leung Cheung; Kevin Govender; Itziar Aretxaga (Panel Discussion: IAU’s Offices)
11:00 - Division representatives (Panel Discussion: IAU Divisions)
11:30 - Heenatigala, Thilina (astroEDU: 5 Years on and the Launch of an Astronomy Education Practitioner Journal)
11:35 - Ortiz Gil, Amelia (Hands on the Stars)
11:40 - Walker, Constance (The Quality Lighting Teaching Kit: Utilizing Problem-Based Learning in Classrooms)
11:45 - Barres de Almeida, Ulisses (The United Nations Open Universe Initiative for Data in Space Science)
11:50 - Cooper, Sally (Radio Astronomy for Development: Big Data)
11:55 - Chair (Brief discussion/closing)


Thursday, 30. Aug.

Projects/Astronomy Education Research (AER)
room: C
08:30 - Bretones, Paulo (Overview of the AER landscape)
08:50 - Voelker, Anna (AstroAccess: Enhancing Disability Inclusion in Science through 3D Printing, Theatre, and Astronomy Outreach)
08:55 - Eriksson, Urban (A 3D Universe? Students’ and professors’ perception of multidimensionality)
09:00 - García, Beatriz (Development of Astronomy on the Globe: New metrics for impact studies)
09:05 - Venugopal, Ramasamy (Evaluating Astronomy interventions: A Pilot Project to Evaluate the Effect of the ‘Pale Blue Dot’ Hypothesis)
09:10 - Fitzgerald, Michael (International Studies of Astronomy Education Research Database (iSTAR). Reaching Critical Mass.)
09:15 - Premadi, Premana (Astronomy as entrance in STEM capacity building: Developing the community around a new observatory)
09:20 - Fragkoudi, Francesca (Experiences and lessons learnt from the "Columba-Hypatia: Astronomy for Peace" project)
09:25 - Chair (Brief discussion/closing)
09:30 - Poster plugs (Each person with a poster has maximum 30 seconds to invite people to view their poster during the break)

Synergies beyond Astronomy
room: C
13:30 - Boulton, Geoffrey (A global perspective of data for development)
13:45 - Allen, Liz (How publication and peer review are evolving in the life sciences: implications for astronomy)
14:00 - Chingozha, Tawanda (Applying astronomy tools in the field of development economics)
14:15 - Arancibia, Demian (An example initiative using astronomy techniques to develop the economy in Chile)
14:30 - Chinigo', Davide (Disassembling the Square Kilometre Array: Astronomy and Development in South Africa)
14:45 - Gastrow, Michael (Access to astronomy for the visually impaired: responding to the inclusion imperative)


Friday, 31. Aug.

OAD Regional Structures
room: F2
08:30 - Alemiye Mamo; Bonaventure Okere, Prospery Simpemba, Awni Khasawneh, Areg Mickaelian (Panel discussion: Middle East and Africa Regional representatives)
09:30 - Patatanyan, Armine (Astronomy from Pure to Social Science)
09:35 - Yuna, Dwi Yoshafetri (Considering the Potential and Development Strategy of Astrotourism in Indonesia using GIS-MCDA and Quantitative Strategic Planning Matrix (QSPM))
09:40 - MWIINGA, Nchimunya (Impact of the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network in the stimulation, growth and sustenance of radio astronomy in Zambia: challenges and opportunities)
09:45 - López, Alejandro Martín (Cultural astronomy perspectives on "development")
09:50 - Sekhar, Aswin (Scope for Citizen Science and Public Outreach Projects in Developing World)
09:55 - Chair (Brief discussion/closing)

OAD Regional Structures/Summary of FM15
room: F2
10:30 - Jaime Forero-Romero; Thijs Kouwenhoven; Wichan Insiri; Rosa Doran; Pedro Russo (Panel discussion: Asia, Latin America, Europe Regional representatives)
11:30 - Kembhavi, Ajit (The OAD from an Indian Perspective)
11:45 - McBride, Vanessa (Summary of FM15)



  • 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 AfricaDefault size
  • 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



Kevindran Govender 


Link to External Website:


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