Friday 05 Feb 2021: Astronomy contributing to development: Retrospective and future perspective
Carolina Ödman - University of the Western Cape, South Africa
In recent decades, astronomy has grown to become a big infrastructure and big data science like experimental particle physics. More recently, astronomy has also been explored as an instrument for development. Originally inspired by the momentum gathered during the International Year of Astronomy in 2009, the concept of astronomy for development was given a home through the establishment of the International Astronomical Union Office of Astronomy for Development in 2011. Many lessons have been learnt since. Using astronomy as a source of inspiration and as a gateway science, education has been the most prolific means through which astronomy has contributed to development. But there have also been many innovations outside of education. It turns out that the most innovative ideas have emerged at the interface between astronomy and other fields, from tourism to economics.
In this colloquium, I will review some of the most innovative projects that have come out of the "Astronomy for Development" movement, and explore the legacy of those projects. I will also discuss the role astronomy can play in a digital, interconnected and post-truth world shaken by global challenges such as climate change and pandemics. How have development priorities changed, and how has astronomy changed? I will illustrate what opportunities the new situation opens up for astronomy, and what new challenges the astronomy community needs to overcome.