Astronomy – a Unique Educational Tool for furthering the SDGs and Stimulating a Global Perspective.

Astronomy is an effective tool for international development because it combines fundamental science and cutting-edge technology with culture and inspiration. Using astronomy to advance the SDGs is the pioneering mission of the International Astronomical Union’s Office of Astronomy for Development in Cape Town (OAD) and its network of 11 regional offices throughout the world. The IAU European Regional Office of Astronomy for Development in partnership with the OAD is organising an online Dialogue on 28 September 2020, as part of the United Nations 75th anniversary celebrations and UN GA75.

The Dialogue will focus on the unique contribution of astronomy, its technology and inspirational power to advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. These include SDG4 (Education), SDG9 (Infrastructure & Innovation), SDG13 (Climate Action) and SDG16 (Peaceful inclusive societies) and to safeguarding SDG5 (Gender Equality) and SDG10 (Reduced inequalities). Particular attention will be paid to how stimulating a cosmic perspective from a young age can contribute to a child’s global consciousness and foster universal solidarity. Such an approach to education is particularly important in the light of the several global threats that face our planet, including pandemics, ethnic conflicts, nuclear war and racism. During the Dialogue, we hope to include short, inspirational videos featuring children from many countries speaking about how they view the world and what the stars and the iconic “pale blue dot” means to them. The Dialogue will conclude with a discussion about how the cosmic perspective can be incorporated into national educational curricula.


14.00 – 14.05 Welcome. Purpose of Dialogue

14.05 – 14.15 Keynote address (Prerecorded)
Naledi Pandor
Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa and Honorary Professor of Astronomy for Development at Leiden University, the Netherlands

14.15 – 14.25 Messages
Barry Andrews MEP European Parliamentary Delegation for Relations with South Africa
Declan Kirrane, Coordinator, EU Africa Radio Astronomy Platform

14.25 – 14.30 First 2 children’s videos

14.30 – 14.40 Astronomy for Development
Kevin Govender Director, International Astronomical Union Office of Astronomy for Development, Cape Town, South Africa

14.40– 14.50 The Pale Blue Dot Project
Michelle Willebrands Project, Manager, International Astronomical Union European Regional Office of Astronomy for Development, Leiden University, The Netherlands

14.50 – 14.55 Second 2 children’s videos

14.55 – 15.05 Educational Materials for Pale Blue Dot
Cecilia Scorza Coordinator for public outreach and school contacts, Faculty of Physics, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany

15.05 – 15.15 Early Childhood Education and Economics of Human Development
Orla Doyle Associate Professor of Economics, University College Dublin, Ireland

15.15 – 15.25 Astronomy education for global citizenship in Indonesia
Premana Premadi Professor of Astrophysics from ITB and supervisor of Bosscha Observatory, Institute of Technology, Bandung, Indonesia

15.25 – 15.35 UNESCO Global Citizen Education Programme and Astronomy
Lydia Ruprecht Global Citizenship Education Team Leader, UNESCO

15.35 – 15.55 Discussion moderated by
Pedro Russo Professor of Astronomy and Society, Leiden University, The Netherlands

15.55 – 16.00 Closing words
Ewine van Dishoeck President, International Astronomical Union and Professor of Molecular Astrophysics, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Chair George Miley Emeritus Professor of Astronomy, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Astronomy – a Unique Educational Tool for furthering the SDGs and Stimulating a Global Perspective.

The event is finished.


Sep 28 2020


2:00 PM - 4:00 PM


George Miley

Other Organizers

Michelle Willebrands
Pedro Russo