Letters of Intent received in 2019

LoI 2021-2104
GA focus meeting: The astronomical symposium in the 21st century

Date: 1 August 2021 to 31 August 2021
Location: Busan, Korea, Rep of
Contact: David Soderblom (drs@stsci.edu)
Coordinating division: Division C Education, Outreach and Heritage
Other divisions: Division A Fundamental Astronomy
Division B Facilities, Technologies and Data Science
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: David Soderblom (STScI)
other IAU DPs (None)
Chair of LOC: None (None)



How to effectively share research and build professional relationships in the future, with an expectation of consuming fewer resources and making the interchange of information and ideas more open and available.



The life of research astronomers is defined by their research, and in these times by the many conferences, meetings and symposia that are held. However, not so many years ago international symposia were much rarer. Indeed, the IAU started support of symposia and colloquia in the post-WWII years precisely because at the time fostering interaction was needed to make astronomy truly international. We are now a larger profession, of course, and it has also become fairly easy for many to travel, much easier that it used to be.

We have come to take for granted spending time away from our homes and home institutions to make and hear presentations and to converse with colleagues old and new. But is that still a valid model? Are there too many meetings? Do we feel like we’re on a treadmill? Doing this has real costs:

o The time spent away has personal costs as well as keeping us from our home institutions.

o Travel costs money.

o Travel adds disproportionately to our carbon footprints.

o Those without the resources to travel to meetings can be systematically excluded from interactions that are vital to building and maintaining careers. That exclusion an be due to cost, but also not everyone has ready mobility for many reasons.

This ~2-day focus meeting is intended to address these issues. Some individuals in astronomy and other sciences have considered this matter in depth and are worth hearing from. To assess the factors that motivate or hinder participation in person or remotely, as part of this discussion we would intend to survey both attendees who come to Busan and a like number of IAU members who did not attend. Only such real information can help get beyond opinions.

The SOC listed at this point includes all the division presidents because this symposium is intended to cross the entire Union. The SOC will need some additional individuals with more specific expertise.

It is anticipated that Division C would coordinate this symposium since their remit includes this area.