Undergraduate and graduate programmes in astronomy for the developing world
In this paper, I discuss some aspects of the design of undergraduate and graduate astronomy curricula, broadly defined, for developing countries. A fundamental requirement is to develop students’ ability and desire to learn, both in university and beyond. I then discuss several aspects of the curriculum: (i) The programme of coursework in astronomy and related topics such as physics and mathematics; (ii) The associated practical and project work to develop skills as well as knowledge; (iii) Linking the coursework, effectively, to various aspects of research; (iv) Development of general academic and professional skills such as oral and written communication, teaching, planning and management, and the ability to function as part of an interdisciplinary
team; and (v) Orientation to the culture of the university and to the science and the profession of astronomy.
To accomplish all of these goals may seem daunting, especially as many of them are not achieved in the most affluent universities. But much can be gained by recognizing that there are well-established “best practices” in education, achieved through formal education research, reflection, and experience. Simple resources, effectively used, can be superior to the highest
technology, used without careful thought. It is often best to do a few things well; “less can be more”. And effective partnership, both within the local university and with the outside astronomical community, can also contribute to success.