Today sees the launch of the third annual call for proposals from the International Astronomical Union’s Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD). The call seeks innovative projects from around the world which aims to use astronomy to stimulate education and development in three target areas: universities and research, children and schools, and public outreach.
The OAD was established in 2011 with a broad vision: Astronomy for a better world! By 2012, following wide community consultation, the OAD established three Task Forces (experts from around the world specialising in the three respective focus areas) and launched its first open call for proposals. The response was overwhelming with 191 applications received in 2012. In 2013 the demand increased by 20% with 230 applications received. Although the funds provided by the IAU are modest (about 10% of the demand), projects that are evaluated to meet a certain standard of quality are placed on a “recommended list” for which the OAD continues to seek support.
Coincidentally the launch of this call coincides with the start of the Fourth East African Astronomy Workshop taking place in Kigali, Rwanda, this week — an excellent example of the type of projects previously funded through the OAD. Participants to this workshop are from Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Africa, France, Germany and USA. The purpose of this series of workshops is to strengthen capacity building in Astronomy and Astrophysics and also to provide a forum for astronomers from the region to train young and upcoming scientists. It provides an opportunity for exchange of ideas, cross border co-supervision and sharing of resources.
Expressing his best wishes for a successful workshop, Dr. Pheneas Nkundabakura, an Astrophysicist and Physics lecturer at University of Rwanda — College of Education, said: “This is the right time. The outcome of this workshop will help to strengthen the development of Astronomy and Astrophysics in the region”.
This year the OAD Call for Proposals does not seek to increase the number, but rather the quality, of the proposals received. Innovation will be an important criterion for success.
“We need to ensure that every year new projects will build on the shoulders of those who came before them, innovating into the future for greater impact on their target audiences” said Kevin Govender, Director of the OAD. “The role of the OAD needs to be one of capturing and sharing best practice in the field so that one day we can look back and see great strides that we have taken together.”
Summaries of all projects that have been previously funded through the OAD are available on www.astro4dev.org, along with the 2014 Call for Proposals and online application forms.
Director, IAU Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD)
Tel: +27 21 460 9350
Cellular: +27 82 487 8466
Dr. Pheneas Nkundabakura
University of Rwanda -College of Education
Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
ESO ePOD, Garching, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6761
Cellular: +49 173 3872 621