Letters of Intent received in 2019

LoI 2021-2069
GA Focus Meeting: IAU Astronomy Outreach: Strategic Actions for the Next Decade

Date: 18 August 2021 to 19 August 2021
Location: Busan, Korea, Rep of
Contact: Lina Canas (lina.canas@nao.ac.jp)
Coordinating division: Division C Education, Outreach and Heritage
Other divisions: Division A Fundamental Astronomy
Division B Facilities, Technologies and Data Science
Division C Education, Outreach and Heritage
Division D High Energy Phenomena and Fundamental Physics
Division E Sun and Heliosphere
Division F Planetary Systems and Astrobiology
Division G Stars and Stellar Physics
Division H Interstellar Matter and Local Universe
Division J Galaxies and Cosmology
Co-Chairs of SOC: Lina Canas (IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach)
Seo-gu Lee (Korea Astronomy & Space Science Institute)
Jorge Rivero González (Leiden University)
Chair of LOC: None (None)

 

Topics

1) Large scale volunteer networks: best practices in community building;
2) Barriers and bridges in communication;
3) Critical thinking and astronomy communication through (1) IAU-member public engagement, (2) Professional-Amateur relations and (3) Citizen Science activities;
4) Open Science and Public Friendly Access to Astronomical Information;
5) Dark and Quiet Skies Protection and the Pale Blue Dot message;
6) The legacy of the IAU100 Celebrations;
7) Bridging outreach with education and development: building a framework of collaboration.

 

Rationale

Ten years ago, two milestones helped set the course of the IAU outreach activities for the following decade: the unprecedented success of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 and the IAU Strategic Plan for 2010-2020, focused on astronomy for development. In the following decade, the IAU OAO would be involved in the coordination of large scale projects, such as Cosmic Light (International Year of Light, 2015), NameExoWorlds (2015) and the IAU 100 years celebrations (2019), using (and managing) the network of National Outreach Coordinators (NOCs) as the backbone for its international implementation.

With the new IAU Strategic Plan 2020-2030, the IAU envisions a clear core goal for the IAU communications and outreach, in which the IAU engages the public in astronomy through access to astronomical information and communication of the science of astronomy. [1]

As the three-year plan for the IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach is drafted in 2019, 2021 will see its very first results. The timing of the General Assembly is ideal to understand, altogether with the IAU members, the (1) framework and alignment of the programs being implemented; and (2) the contributions as a group, the IAU community at large can bring to achieve a successful implementation of the Strategic Plan.

With this proposed GA Focus Meeting in 2021 on “IAU Astronomy Outreach: Strategic Actions for the Next Decade”, the IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach predicts a two-days meeting, framing its discussions under direct alignment with the Strategic Actions for the IAU outreach, with the following topics:

1) Large scale volunteer networks: best practices in community building;
In direct alignment with Strategic Action 1 [1] we intend to (1) discuss best practices in community building that rely on volunteers (e.g. National Outreach Coordinators (NOCs)) and (2) share the impact of these practices on the work developed by the office. In presentation format and/or panel discussions, this topic will address how a community is brought together under the same framework, despite diverse contexts, while showcasing volunteer practices, and common points for effective, global, joint programs.

2) Barriers and bridges in communication;
One of the strategic actions (Strategic Action 2 [1]) is to facilitate international communication through exchanges and translations. With language being something that can both divide or unify a community, we will discuss the successes and challenges of shared practices, the IAU Translation Network, and the contributions of inclusive outreach for the improvement of astronomy communication. This topic will focus on the role of communication, through outreach professionals, science communicators and informal educators, in making astronomy an accessible science, and the inclusive programs implemented for diverse audiences.

3) Critical thinking and astronomy communication through (1) IAU-member public engagement, (2) Professional-Amateur relations and (3) Citizen Science activities;
This topic, related to Strategic Action 4 [1], will showcase (and discuss) best practices, activities and resources implemented by the community.

4) Open Science and Public Friendly Access to Astronomical Information;
This topic will address the importance of open science for the public, positioning the dialogue under the role of professional astronomers and addressing reliability issues through panel discussions and showcasing successful examples of international digital access platforms to astronomy information.

5) Dark and Quiet Skies Protection and the Pale Blue Dot message;
The discussion will be centered in the astronomy outreach actions communicating the uniqueness and importance of protecting our fragile home, Earth.

Two extra topics for discussion are also addressed, for their potential to showcase successful examples of large scale projects and their relevance, transversal to all Strategic Actions, and of key importance for the office and the community:

6) The legacy of the IAU100 Celebrations;
2021, will see the first GA after the year-long large scale celebrations of the IAU 100th year anniversary. Given the significant role of outreach the actions carried, we wish to allocate time (half-day) dedicated to the IAU100 Global Projects and other IAU100 significant projects carried, focusing both on legacy and impact.

7) Bridging outreach with education and development: building a framework of collaboration.
With the new IAU Office of Astronomy for Education running in 2021, and the continued collaborative work with the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development, this topic will address the action-based relation between the IAU offices, essential to maximize resources, minimize overlap and provide an optimized collaboration framework.

In the proposed two-days Focus Meeting, we predict oral and poster sessions, featuring a mix of invited and contributed talks, some of which in the form of panel discussions. During these two days, all participants are encouraged to recommend ways the IAU outreach-related community can actively contribute to the implementation of the IAU Strategic Plan and the role the IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach should play in this endeavour (that will translate into a final panel discussion).

For the current Letter of Intent, we have performed a preliminary research identifying various aspects of the expertise required, fostering the involvement, primarily, of the IAU-members community, but also, to some extent, engage relevant contributors to the wider field of science communication. To all parties involved, from organization to contributors and participants, we commit to providing equal participatory opportunities, freedom of dialog and non-discriminatory behaviours or environment, as regulated by the IAU and the International Science Council (ISC).

With international collaboration, sustainability and the IAU Strategic Plan 2020-2030 at the core of our strategy for the IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach, we are reshaping our actions for the next decade. We envision the IAU outreach community as bridge-builders, facilitating access to information across our community, from professional astronomers to the general public, and continuing our pursuit of taking astronomy to all.

Reference
[1] IAU Strategic Plan 2020-2030, pp 36-38. IAU Publications. Accessed on 09 Sept. 2019. PDF. Available: https://www.iau.org/static/administration/about/strategic_plan/strategicplan-2020-2030.pdf.