The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is in the process of creating the Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) to achieve the goals set out in the IAU Strategic Plan 2020–2030. As such, the IAU invites member countries or institutions interested in hosting the OAE to submit Letters of Intent (LoI).
The International Astronomical Union (IAU), founded in 1919, has as its mission to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects — research, communication, education and development — through international cooperation. In furtherance of its mission the IAU has already created three offices:
- the Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD), a joint venture with the South African National Research Foundation, established in 2011: through the OAD and its Regional Nodes across the world, astronomy is used to stimulate global development following the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
- the Office for Astronomy Outreach (OAO), a joint venture with the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, established in 2012: through the OAO and its network of National Outreach Coordinators, the IAU promotes public awareness of astronomy, coordinates and manages international outreach campaigns, and maintains a relationship with amateur astronomers;
- the Office for Young Astronomers (OYA), a joint venture with the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, established in 2008: OYA focuses on the training of the future generation of astronomers through its International Schools for Young Astronomers (ISYA).
The IAU now intends to establish the Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE), focused on providing training and resources for using astronomy as a stimulus for teaching and education, from elementary to high school level (astronomy and science education).
The IAU Strategic Plan 2020–2030, approved at the XXXth General Assembly in Vienna in August 2018, provides a comprehensive overview of the IAU, describes how the different IAU activities fit together and how they complement each other, and presents the long-term goals of the organisation.
The fourth office, the Office of Astronomy for Education, completes the set of targeted initiatives in response to the goals of the Strategic Plan. There are, of course, relations and overlapping activities between the four IAU offices.
The OAE will be established through an international Call for Proposals and will have the following main objectives:
- identify the OAE host which will work in partnership with the IAU;
- establish a network of National Astronomy Education Coordinators (NAECs) that will represent the interface between the OAE and the community of teachers, in each Coordinator’s country, who would be interested in astronomy and in using astronomy as a tool for teaching science in primary and secondary school;
- through the NAECs, liaise with curriculum experts and hopefully with education ministries to further the inclusion of astronomy in the national curricula, and perhaps to propose modifications of the national curricula and the schools’ syllabi, to develop educational material tailored to the needs of specific countries or groups and school level;
- analyse, with the support of the NAECs, how astronomy is used in teaching in all the IAU countries, identifying existing relevant actions and liaise with them, e.g., organising professional development for teachers and high-quality teaching material that is readily accessible and that can be translated into the local language;
- develop and encourage the use of standards to be followed in the organisation of teacher training activities;
- organise Regional or International Schools for Astronomy Education (SAE) for teachers, adhering to these standards;
- recruit and organise volunteer IAU members who are willing to contribute to the teacher training programme.
The current call is addressed to all IAU member countries and in this first phase requests Letters of Intent (LoI) from countries or institutions interested in hosting the proposed new Office of Astronomy for Education.
Submission of a LoI is mandatory for submitting full proposals. The LoIs will be used to pre-select a shortlist of potential partners.
The LoI (not exceeding 3 pages) should provide the following information:
- identification of the proposed partner (name, type of organisation, location, country);
- general statement on the interest in hosting the OAE;
- indication of resources (human, infrastructural and financial) to be made available for hosting the OAE, and what contribution is expected from the IAU;
- executive summary of the main programmatic lines and goals proposed for the OAE activity for a period of 5 years;
- proposed timeline for the establishment of OAE.
- 31 December 2018: Letters of Intent should be submitted to the IAU General Secretary.
- 28 February 2019: Selection of a shortlist of prospective OAE hosts.
- 30 June 2019: Proposals should be submitted to the IAU General Secretary.
- 30 September 2019: Evaluation of proposals completed.
- 31 December 2019: Agreement between selected host and the IAU for the OAE signed.
The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 13 500 professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide. Its mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.
Maria Teresa Lago
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Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 320 06 761
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