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ISC and its partners organised the 9th edition of the Science Summit around the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) on 12-29 September 2023.
The role and contribution of science to attaining the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be the central theme of the Summit. The objective is to develop and launch science collaborations to demonstrate global science mechanisms and activities to support the attainment of the UN SDGs, Agenda 2030 and Local2030. The meeting will also prepare input for the United Nations Summit of the Future, which will take place during UNGA79 beginning on 12 September 2024.
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Thursday, September 28 • 5:00am - 6:00am
[VIRTUAL] Why Decolonize Science? Perspectives from Astronomy (280501)

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***JOIN US ON ZOOM (ONLY):  Thursday, September 28, 2023, at 09:00–10:00 UTC / 18:00–19:00 JST***

Colonial practices are embedded in many aspects of scientific engagements, from research, policy, education, and outreach. How many of these practices are embedded in the astronomy community and science? Is there an urgent need to redesign the system to advance astronomy science inclusively? What can astronomers and decision-makers do for a positive change? In this session, experts from three regions will discuss perspectives from astronomy that reflects colonial practices.

Major astronomy research infrastructures are built on Indigenous lands e.g., Hawaii, Chile, Canary Islands, etc., and these large-scale projects often overlook the local voices and objections (Prescod-Weinstein et al., 2020) of the local experts and community. The lack of ethical policy discussion, salary disparities, restricted data accessibility for Global South users from Global South based infrastructure, and so on, are primarily designed as the 17th Century European social structure. The narratives of "explorers," "discoveries," and "new worlds" remains a part of space missions, especially given the traction on missions to the moon and Mars.

Astronomy is a key scientific field with an active global outreach community and is included in many of the standard science curricula. And yet, the education and outreach in astronomy still largely present a Western view. Indigenous and local knowledge are missing and not acknowledged (Aikenhead, 2008).

These are local and global issues in astronomy science that need to be urgently addressed. Moving towards inclusive astronomy will benefit the industry and technology transfer (SDG9), progressing inequality (SDG10), and a balanced education (SDG4). The authors aim to publish a perspective journal article with the outcome from the discussion session that will be distributed among the astronomy community as a call for action manifesto.

  • Thilina Heenatigala, Specially Appointed Assistant Professor / Director of Communications, Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan (Organizer)
  • Tana Joseph, Equity and Inclusion Officer for Dutch Astronomy, Netherlands Astronomy Council, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
  • Pedro Russo, Assistant Professor, Leiden University (The Netherlands)

avatar for Pedro Russo

Pedro Russo

Assistant Professor + Astronomy&Society Group / Board of Directors, Leiden University/Ciência Viva
Pedro Russo is a University Professor in Astronomy & Society at Leiden University, the Netherlands and a member of the board of directors of Ciência Viva, the Portuguese National Agency for Scientific and Technological Culture. Pedro leads the Astronomy&Society Group. Dr. Russo was... Read More →
avatar for Tana Joseph

Tana Joseph

postdoc, University of Amsterdam
Dr. Tana Joseph is a South African astronomer, entrepreneur, public speaker and social justice advocate for the sciences. She obtained her PhD in physics in 2013 and has been awarded both Fulbright and Royal Society fellowships in recognition of her research excellence.Dr. Joseph... Read More →
avatar for Thilina Heenatigala

Thilina Heenatigala

Assistant Professor/Director of Communications & Lecturer, Earth-Life Science Institute
Thilina Heenatigala (he/him) is the Director of Communications and Assistant Professor at Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) in Tokyo. He leads the outreach team, science communication projects, and teaches the science communication graduate course at ELSI. His research interests... Read More →

Thursday September 28, 2023 5:00am - 6:00am EDT