Vision, Mission and Core Values


We are the leading global forum for light science and technology.


Our mission is to promote the generation, application and archiving of knowledge in optics and photonics and to disseminate this knowledge worldwide. The purposes of the Society are scientific, technical and educational. Our commitment to excellence and long-term learning is the driving force behind all its initiatives.

Since 1916, we have been the world’s leading champion for optics and photonics, uniting and educating scientists, engineers, educators, technicians and business leaders worldwide to foster and promote technical and professional development. Through our publications, events and services, we help to advance the science of light by addressing the ongoing need for shared knowledge and innovation.

Optica was founded more than 100 years ago as The Optical Society of America and has evolved into a global enterprise serving a worldwide constituency.

Core Values: i4

Our values of innovation, integrity, inclusivity and impact (“i4”) underpin all of our activities, and a commitment to excellence and diversity are the hallmarks of our initiatives.


The process and products of scientific inquiry are central to the generation of knowledge in optics and photonics. Support from governments, industry, and academia are integral to ongoing discovery and innovation that moves society forward. The process of discovery and innovation must be free from political pressure or influence, and rely on proven and accepted scientific methods.


Authoritative generation, application, archiving and dissemination of optics and photonics knowledge requires a rigorous quality standards process that is fundamental our every action. Transparency in operations and internal governance is essential to maintaining the highest level of integrity and trust within our membership. Our commitment to excellence in content and methodology establishes us as a trusted resource for scientific information worldwide.


Modern scientific research increasingly depends on diverse collaboration for success. This interdisciplinary, global exchange of knowledge must be broadly inclusive, seeking contributions from all sources, based solely on excellence. Optica is, by its nature, diverse. We are committed to also being inclusive, and we strive to provide an atmosphere in which all people feel valued and respected and have access to the same opportunities. We are a professional community in service to the greater human community.


Science and technology contribute to the improvement of society. Optical science plays an enabling role in both discovery and technology development. It is at the center of modern healthcare, transportation and communication, and sustains businesses through engineering solutions that benefit communities around the world. Optica is an active advocate for science in general, and optics and photonics specifically. Our outreach efforts include working with governments worldwide to advocate for research and development funding, promoting and defending the integrity of science, increasing public engagement in science, and fostering participation in technical education.

Current Strategy

Our 2017 – 2021 Strategic Plan Framework sets the course and priorities for our organization.

The Framework has five strategic aims, and each aim aligns with and supports our mission, vision, and core values. Our leaders and staff are working to achieve these aims in the context of their individual areas of responsibility.

  1. Determining Our Future:  Establishing what the society will look like in five years as well as clarifying what our identity is and what we should be known for. 
  1. Meeting the Needs of Individual Constituents:  Determining the profile of individual constituent segments like members, volunteers and/or customers and how we can best meet their needs and understanding if the current membership model will still be relevant and what it will mean to be a member. 
  1. Addressing the Needs of Key Stakeholder Groups:  Identifying which part(s) of our community we are serving well, which ones we are underserving, and how we can position ourselves to build and better serve all key stakeholders. 
  1. Providing a Wide Array of Offerings: Selecting the optimum set and range of programs, services and topics that we should continue to offer/cover or change along with the associated business models for each as well as those that we should add and/or sunset.  
  1. Ensuring Revenue Diversification and Growth: Determining how we will diversify our revenue streams so that we are not overly dependent upon any one program to meet all of our needs and how to best achieve both organic and non-organic revenue growth.

Looking Further Ahead

In 2018, the society’s Board of Directors established the 2030 Rapid Action Committee (RAC). Committee members were asked to envision we might evolve to best attract and retain future generations of talented people in the field. An overview of the RAC’s collective thinking titled “The Optical Society 2030 Green Paper” was published in 2019.