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ICO evolving towards an ICSU Union

January 2017 Number 110

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ICO evolving towards an ICSU Union

Update on the process of application to the ICSU


Contribute your ideas to the
ICO's mission and vision to become a Union

Visit the survey site


As directed by the ICO General Assembly in 2014, the ICO Bureau has been working on the application to ICSU to become the International Union of Optics and Photonics (IUOP). The creation of a union will greatly enhance the impact and recognition of optics as a discipline and, consequently, it will have a positive impact on optics education, industries, and society in general. Ultimately, the success of the new union will depend on the interests of its members and their willingness to become involved in both old and new initiatives.

In 2015, the ICO Bureau created a working group consisting of the ICO executive committee members, the ICO past-president, Maria L Calvo, and the ICO past-secretary-general, Pierre Chavel.

The ICO working group needs your help to define the mission and vision of the new International Union of Optics and Photonics. We need to answer some specific questions about our role within ICSU. I have prepared a survey in Survey Monkey, with six crucial questions in the application with which we would particularly like your help. Please visit the Survey Monkey link at to share your vision for our new union.

The ICO working group has gathered application procedure information and has initiated actions to obtain supporting letters from ICSU unions and national members. Currently, we have supporting letters from the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS), the International Union of Radio Science (URSI), the International Union of Material Research Societies (IUMRS), the International Union of Physical and Engineering Sciences in Medi- cine (IUPESM), the Mexican Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council of Italy, the National Council of Scientific Research of Spain, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, Germany), the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of New Zealand, and the Science Council of Japan. We are confident that we will soon receive support from the Royal Academy of Sciences in the UK. The ICO working group has also prepared a draft of a Strategic Plan 2017–2022 for consideration by the General Assembly. The document is posted online.

We ask all ICO territorial committees to ask the ICSU representative in their country to support the ICO initiative. For that purpose, the ICO secretariat is ready to provide you with a list of the ICSU contacts in your respective territories, along with a template letter requesting the support. We are also providing a rationale in support of our application. Please be aware that we will need to promote the participation of your ICSU representatives in the ICSU General Assembly in Taipei in 2017. They can delegate their vote to another attending delegate in favour of our application. In the case that the ICSU delegation of your territory cannot attend, we suggest that they delegate their vote to the German DFG delegation, one of the largest supporters of ICSU programmes and activities.

On behalf of ICO, I thank you for your participation in the survey and outreach.

Angela M Guzmán, ICO Secretary General 2008–2017

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