WCS-017: Pedro Russo uses astronomy to empower people to see the world in a different way

Pedro_RussoPedro Russo’s passion for using astronomy as an educational tool ignites his work with people and organizations across the globe, helping them to bridge cultures, histories and geographies, while finding balance and peace in their lives.

About Pedro Russo:

Pedro Russo is the International Project Manager for the Universe Awareness project at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He is passionately committed to using astronomy as an educational tool. He is currently serving as the Chair of the Schools and Children Task Force of the International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) Astronomy for Development program and also as the Vice President of the Commission for Communicating Astronomy with the Public. Until 2010 Pedro was the global coordinator for the largest network ever in Science Outreach, the International Year of Astronomy. Pedro coordinated the planning, implementation, execution and evaluation of the global activities, projects and events. He was responsible for the communication between the thousands of stakeholders, including projects and national chairs, the astronomy community, media and society. Pedro is also the editor-in-chief of the scientific journal, Communicating Astronomy with the Public Journal.

Personal Mantra:

Work hard and especially be honestly nice to people.

One of his greatest challenges:

Having a coordination job, Pedro spends a lot of time writing emails, managing budgets, and preparing reports so it is easy to lose sight of the big picture. It makes it really important to make sure even the little things he does are contributing to his goals. Listen to Pedro share how he maintains a healthy balance.

When he knows the work he is doing is making a difference:

Pedro shares a touching letter about how the work he was doing helped a daughter connect to her father and to a global community.

Practical Advice:

Find other people who share your vision and work with them. You will achieve more if you work with other people not only in your own community but around the world.

Best strategies for funding:

Be realistic about the amount of time it can take to get funding for a project. If you recognize how long it will take, you are less likely to become discouraged.

Personal Practice That Keeps Him Going on the Tough Days

Checking in personally with collaborators in the field keeps Pedro going.

Tools or Technology:

Building communities with face-to-face contact either locally or through workshops or conferences makes a huge difference.

Google hangouts is useful for meeting online.


Recommended books and films:

Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan

Coffee table art books provide inspiration

Massive Attack music

Nomination for Upcoming World Changer Sessions Guest:

Kevin Govender is changing the way developing countries are using basic science, such as astronomy, as a tool for development.

How to get in touch:

Website: Universe Awareness

Email: info@unawe.org