Universiteit Leiden

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

Project details

Leiden University coordinator:

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

Partner institutions:

  • Universidad Nacional de Colombia
  • Universidad de Antioquia
  • Universidad ECCI

Type of mobility:

  • Staff and student exchange

Project duration:

  • 2020-2023

Project summary

The European Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (E-ROAD) in the Faculty of Science regards exchanges with the Andean ROAD office, based in Colombia, 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 share research and management expertise. This equips astronomers in low-income countries with the necessary technical and soft skills to stimulate capacity building. The project will thus contribute to sustainable development. Exchanges between the E-ROAD and the Andean ROAD in Colombia will increase Colombian research capacity in astronomy and project management, and will build skills that can be applied within and outside academia. The E-ROAD, in return, can learn from the track record of “astronomy for development” activities at the ROAD office in Colombia, which has more experience in this field.

This exchange programme will pursue the strategic aims of both the Leiden and Colombian partners and help address some of the specific challenges faced by the Colombian partners. This will be realised through staff and student exchanges aimed at sharing expertise and building research and teaching collaborations.

The internationalisation strategy of Universidad Nacional involves increasing international activity in several fields of scientific research in astronomy and astrophysics, particularly those related to outgoing projects conducted by students of the master’s and PhD programmes. The internationalisation strategy has the following objectives: to develop a broad and inclusive education in English writing; to increase the number of international student exchanges; and to integrate foreign professors within the University's academic community.

Universidad de Antioquia has the only undergraduate astronomy programme in the country and is already involved in a collaboration with Leiden University called AstroTwinCoLO, in which researchers from Leiden University visit Medellín to teach courses on undergraduate-level astronomy in a summer school. However, there is a significant strategic need to improve master’s-level student and researcher mobility in order to increase the impact of the research conducted at the University.

Universidad ECCI is a young, engineering-oriented private university, which is starting to consolidate its research in astronomy. One of its strategic needs is to bring engineering students closer to astronomy research. This can be achieved by improving student and researcher mobility, and by creating close contact with researchers from Leiden University.

Leiden University is developing a strategic long-term collaboration policy for a small number of priority regions, including Latin America, to strengthen cooperation with universities, organisations and governmental bodies in the priority regions. Colombia is one the four focus countries within this priority region. The Leiden Latin American and Caribbean Centre aims to set up and implement new research projects and to increase student and staff mobility and exchanges. The proposed mobility project will contribute to this goal.

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