The aim of the global Universe Awareness (UNAWE) programme is to spark an interest in astronomy among children and thus encourage scientific thought, as well a global feeling of solidarity and environmental awareness around the world. Launched in 2006 with the support of the International Astronomical Union by its then Vice President Prof. George Miley, UNAWE now operates in more than 50 countries. Through learning about astronomy-related topics, children realize that we are all citizens of the same planet Earth. This broadens children’s horizons and their perception of the world, meaning cultural boundaries become permeable, which in turn creates a breeding ground for tolerance and integration.
From 2011 to 2013, UNAWE received € 1.9 million in funding from the European Union, which was used to expand the programme in five European countries, namely Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom, as well as in South Africa. The German project partner of this "EU-UNAWE" project was the University of Heidelberg while the central coordinating office for Germany was at the Haus der Astronomie, headed by astronomer Cecilia Scorza and physicist Natalie Fischer.
Although the EU-UNAWE project has since been completed, HdA remains the central UNAWE coordination office for Germany.
UNAWE is supported by the German UNAWE committee, which comprises astronomers, education experts, teachers and developmental psychologists. Of particular importance to the EUNAWE project in Germany is its work with socially disadvantaged children, including those with a migrant background and children whose parents receive unemployment benefits.