Special Session SS2  29 June 2021

Astronomy for Development

Aims and scope

  • Expand the astronomy for development community to work on sustainable development in Europe and globally.
  • Present current astronomy for development activities and opportunities in Europe.
  • Discuss the future of astronomy for development in Europe and what we can learn from existing initiatives.

The IAU European Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (E-ROAD) was established at Leiden in 2018 as a partnership between the EAS and Leiden University. It is part of a global network of 11 regional offices of Astronomy for Development the IAU has set up in the past decade, to use astronomy as a tool for international development. Because of its links with various sciences, cutting-edge technology, but also culture and philosophy, astronomy can contribute uniquely to help stimulate sustainable development and specifically, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are many different ways to employ astronomy skills, facilities and knowledge for socio-economic development. The global IAU astronomy for development network has extensive experience that we can learn from and build on.

The E-ROAD focuses on contributing to the SDGs in Europe, as well as connecting with the sister offices across the world and sharing expertise and resources. The activities of the European office will be highlighted, including the global education project Pale Blue Dot that promotes global citizenship in young children, to encourage solidarity and raise environmental awareness. Besides, the E-ROAD has set up a twinning programme between astronomy departments worldwide to stimulate capacity building. This programme will start in 2021 as a collaboration between Leiden and Armenia, Colombia, Ethiopia and Nigeria through Erasmus+ ICM grants. Finally, the EU project SKIES has started, focusing on open science, social innovation and entrepreneurship for astronomy PhD students. In this session, the astronomy community has the opportunity to discuss the future direction of the European office and learn how to become involved.


This special session will consist of three 90-minute blocks, each with a different focus:

  • Block 1: Activities of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development network globally and in Europe, as well as the societal impact of other astronomy networks and organisations.
  • Block 2: Contributions of astronomy to SGD4.7 global citizenship education and peaceful societies & SDG13.3 climate change awareness, while safeguarding SDG5 gender and SDG10 reduced inequalities.
  • Block 3: Contributions of astronomy to SDG8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), including human capacity building, skills training, research capacity, and technology transfer for societal benefit.
We welcome abstract submissions for a short talk or poster.

Invited speakers

  • Sonal Asgotraa (Global Himalayan Expedition - Astrostays)
  • Leo Burtscher (Leiden University)
  • Sulisa Chariyalertsak (South East Asian Regional Office of Astronomy for Development)
  • Bernard Combes (UNESCO Education for Sustainable Development)
  • William Garnier (SKA)
  • Kevin Govender(IAU Office of Astronomy for Development)
  • Elina Griniece (EU RI-PATHS)
  • Claudio Melo (ESO)
  • Onuche Ogu (Astronomers Withouth Borders Nigeria)
  • Nadeem Oozeer (South African Radio Astronomy Observatory)
  • Cecilia Scorza (Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich)
  • Monica Turner (Centre for Humanitarian Data)
  • Michelle Willebrands (European Regional Office of Astronomy for Development)
  • Andy Williams (ESO)
  • Danielle Wood (MIT Media Arts and Sciences)
Contributed speakers:
  • Sara Anjos (IAU Portuguese Language Office of Astronomy for Development)
  • Hannah Dalgleish(University of Oxford / University of Namibia)
  • Sona Farmanyan (IAU South-West Central Asian Regional Office of Astronomy for Development)
  • Gina Maffey (Wildeor Foundation)
  • Mamidou N'diaye (Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur)
  • Gustavo Rojas (IAU Portuguese Language Office of Astronomy for Development)
  • Dana Ficut-Vicas
  • Eike Wolf Guenther
  • Maaike Pierik

Scientific organisers

  • Michelle Willebrands (Leiden University/E-ROAD)
  • Pedro Russo (Leiden University)
  • Andreas Burkert (Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich)
  • Leo Burtscher (Leiden University)
  • Kevin Govender (IAU Office of Astronomy for Development)
  • Contact

    willebrands @ strw.leidenuniv.nl

    Updated on Thu Jun 03 17:08:30 CEST 2021