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ISSUE 27 - March 2020

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How Astronomers Perceive the Societal Impact of Research: An Exploratory Study (page 31)
Willebrands, M.; Russo, P.


We present an exploratory study of the perception of professional astronomers about the societal impact of astronomy. Ten semi-structured interviews with astronomers from a range of career and cultural backgrounds have been conducted to gain in-depth insight into their opinion about societal impact and their approach in realising it. The results show that the interviewees are aware of the diversity of impacts that astronomical research has. However, they are mostly active in outreach and only a few activities are incorporated into their jobs to achieve an impact on development. There is little contact with stakeholders in industry, policy or other fields, like development. Besides, a structured approach in their personal outreach is lacking, and assessment is only done informally. Despite the limited sample size of this study, the results indicate that a further change is necessary to engage professional astronomers with topics of development and societal impact to create action on the level of individual researchers.

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