Names can sometimes be misleading. Take, for instance, the name of our organization. The Optical Society of America sounds like a regionally focused organization, when in fact nearly half of our members reside outside the United States. Your OSA Board of Directors and staff are keenly aware of the Society’s global reach, and serving the needs of the worldwide optics community is one of OSA’s highest strategic priorities. It is interesting to note that one of the fruits of our field—namely, ubiquitous global optical networks—is driving the need as well as enabling the globalization of our Society.
We discussed globalization extensively during a recent OSA Board meeting. The discussion was driven by the understanding that the world is changing in fundamental ways that will have an increasingly significant impact on our Society, making it imperative that we develop new ways of thinking, acting and operating. Some of the major drivers are the rapidly expanding global opto-electronic communications infrastructure, strong technical and economic growth in countries such as India and China, the high cost of travel and the need to reduce our carbon footprint.
These factors provide us with both the challenge and the opportunity to look closely at our products and services to determine if we are responding in an optimum way to our changing environment and its impact on our community. Some of the questions that the Board explored include: Is our current model of face to face meetings and conferences fully exploiting communications technology to support international participation? What additional activities can be undertaken to more effectively fulfill OSA’s global mission? How should we guide and measure our success in expanding OSA’s global presence—for example, the number of members residing outside the United States; the number of international meetings; greater global representation among journal editors/reviewers; partnerships with peer societies?
OSA’s motivation as we explore opportunities to better serve our members continues to be our commitment to serving the global optics and photonics community and to enhancing the welfare of the field and the community. As we develop strategies for expanding our global presence, it is essential that we remain sensitive to local cultures and that we provide appropriate member services, awards and other benefits of membership at the local level. As I noted in my column last month, to be successful in our mission we must “think globally,” but “act locally.”
Over the next few months, I will be working with other members of the OSA Board to develop strategies for implementing a more global presence for OSA. This is an important initiative for OSA for which your input would be most appreciated and valued. I invite you to send your comments and thoughts to email@example.com.
I’d like to close this column with a reminder to vote in the OSA officer election, which gets under way this month. Beginning June 16, when the electronic polls open, through the end of the election on September 15, you’ll be receiving a series of reminders asking you to vote for the 2009 OSA Vice President and three Directors-at-Large. Election results will be announced on Tuesday, October 21, at the OSA Annual Business Meeting at FiO 2008 in Rochester, N.Y., USA. I urge you to set aside some time to read the candidates’ biographies and statements and to fill out your ballot. The direction of the Society is charted by its elected officers, and your vote is needed to ensure that we select the right people for the job.
— Rod C. Alferness