Universiteit Leiden

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This is an Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility project of the Faculty of Science with two universities in Armenia.

Project details

Leiden University coordinator:

  • Faculty of Science, Leiden Observatory, project coordinator: Michelle Willebrands

Partner institutions:

  • Yerevan State University
  • Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory

Type of mobility:

  • Staff exchange

Project duration:

  • 2020-2023

Project summary

The European Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (E-ROAD) in the Faculty of Science at Leiden University regards collaborations and exchanges with the ROAD office in Armenia as an important strategic goal. Both offices are part of a global network, the International Astronomical Union (IAU), and one of the aims is to strengthen bonds with sister offices by sharing the research and management expertise available in each region. This will equip astronomers in low-income countries with the necessary technical and soft skills and therefore stimulate capacity building. The project will thus contribute to sustainable development. Collaboration and exchanges between the E-ROAD in Leiden and the South West and Central Asia ROAD in Armenia will increase Armenian research capacity in astronomy and related technological fields, including project management, and will build capacity in skills that can be applied both within and outside academia. The E-ROAD, in return, can learn from the track record of “astronomy for development” activities at the ROAD in Armenia, which has more experience in this field. The connection with the ROAD office in Armenia is particularly interesting for the European ROAD office because they cover neighbouring regions (in Eastern Europe) and can therefore collaborate on tackling specific development needs there.

Yerevan State University (YSU) is creating its internal quality assurance system in line with the requirements of European standards and guidelines to enhance the quality of its educational provisions. Effective feedback from students and graduates is being used to bring study programmes into compliance with the needs and requirements of the labour market and society at large. Continuous development of its teaching staff in an international context is one of YSU’s priorities and is a crucial factor for providing high-quality education. YSU recently introduced a new credit-based programme for teaching staff development. This provides special training courses aimed at developing teachers’ skills in applying new teaching, learning and assessment methods. Leiden University has relevant knowledge of astronomy and modern teaching methods to train the Armenian staff in new methodologies and educational content.

To meet 21st-century challenges, Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO) continuously upgrades the content of its educational and scientific programmes. It organises an annual summer school, aimed at attracting students at local, regional and international levels to the field of astronomy and teaching the principles of scientific work. This school means that BAO plays a leading role in the region and offers opportunities for young people there to participate internationally in high-level lectures and practical courses, as they have few opportunities to participate in European and American schools. The school also gives students in the region a wide range of opportunities to communicate and make new acquaintances, which is very useful for their further careers. This mobility project supports BAO’s objective of becoming more internationally visible and offering its students an international outlook.

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