Astronomy for Development Overview

Astronomy can play a unique role in facilitating education and capacity building and in furthering sustainable development throughout the world. Based on this idea, elaborated upon in the IAU Strategic Plan, the International Astronomical Union set up the Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) in partnership with the South African National Research Foundation (NRF).

The OAD functions as a strategic coordinating centre that carries out a wide range of global activities designed to use astronomy as a tool for education and development. The mission is directed towards development at all levels, including primary, secondary and tertiary education, science research and the public understanding of science.

The OAD was officially opened in April 2011 at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) in Cape Town, South Africa. The first major workshop of stakeholders was held from 12 to 14 December 2011. Since then three Regional Nodes, one Language Expertise Centre and three Task Forces have been established. In 2012, the first annual open Call for Proposals was launched for each of the task forces: Universities and Research (TF1); Children and Schools (TF2); and Public Outreach (TF3).

The year 2013 saw the OAD in full operational mode, overseeing the many projects funded through the first call for proposals. Additionally, the OAD has developed a funding framework for OAD fundraising activities and Monitoring and Evaluation framework for OAD-funded projects. Moving into the fourth year of operation, the OAD will redouble its fundraising efforts, undergo an external review of its activities, and develop the theoretical and practical tools required to assess the impact of astronomy-for-development activities over the decade 2010-2020.

To read more about the office, visit the OAD website or download the 2014 brochure here.


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