SPIE position statements

Guiding principles on issues important to the Society

The following position statements are approved by the SPIE Board of Directors and serve as guiding principles for the Society when dealing with issues of importance to the Society, SPIE Membership, and the optics and photonics community.

Policy positions

The loss of life and security in Ukraine is appalling and deeply saddening. Scientists and engineers must be able to do their work without being under threat or duress. While optics and photonics can improve the betterment of the human condition, peace is a fundamental requirement for progress.

As the international society for optics and photonics, SPIE stands with our Members and constituents calling for an end to the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. SPIE is deeply concerned for the safety and well-being of our Ukrainian Members and their families. SPIE stands with all who call for peace and an end to the invasion. Without peace, progress is not possible.


SPIE embraces the multi-ethnic body of voices of its communities and acknowledges that each individual voice has equal value. SPIE explicitly condemns and actively denounces racially motivated violence, bias, discrimination, or exclusion. Understanding that some racist acts can be unconscious or unintentional, SPIE resolves to discuss and better understand the inequities that exist within optics and photonics, and work with members of our community to correct them. Standing up against racism is integral to the SPIE mission as a scientific society: to advance light-based research and technologies for the betterment of the human condition.


Equity, diversity, and inclusion
Optics and photonics technology should be accessible to all, whether through study, employment, or the societal benefits achieved from advancements in this area. SPIE supports opportunity, equity, and freedom for all people regardless of identity, background, or affiliation. SPIE recognizes past and current inequities within the optics and photonics community and resolves to prioritize prevention of future inequities. SPIE calls on governments, academia, and the private sector to ensure access to opportunity and advancement within their constituencies, as they benefit greatly from a diverse workforce.


Facial recognition technology
SPIE strongly condemns the use of any optics and photonics technologies for discrimination, racial profiling, or human rights violations. Furthermore, technologies purporting to assess criminality or related behaviors of an individual based on facial characteristics are not founded in sound scientific premises, research, or methods. SPIE calls upon the optics and photonics community to refute efforts to utilize facial recognition technology in discriminatory, divisive, or nefarious ways.


Global research and development funding
SPIE supports robust global investment in research and development (R&D) to drive innovation and build economic prosperity. Establishing national and regional photonics platforms and public-private partnerships is important for the global optics and photonics community.


STEM Immigration
Upon graduation, many foreign-born students studying at US institutions are forced back to their home countries due to a lack of proper work authorization. Students educated in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields are a benefit to the US economy and innovation, and should be provided a secure and clear path to receiving work authorization if they desire to stay and work in the US.


International mobility of scientists
SPIE supports policies that allow for the international mobility of scientists. Sharing knowledge and talent through collaboration has been core to scientific breakthroughs for over a century and will continue to be a vital element to innovation across the sciences. Countries instituting policies that prevent, restrict, or discourage the movement of researchers, whether in temporary business activities, employment, or scientific exchange, may put themselves at a disadvantage while hindering scientific progress.


Research and development funding and authorization
Research and development (R&D) funding and authorization are key to the continued growth of scientific discovery and innovation. SPIE supports authorization that demonstrates a path forward to robust investment in the sciences, as well as funding in actual dollars through the annual appropriation bills. This includes funding of both basic, applied, and advanced science, that assists in making sure the US takes advantage of US basic science research through development and commercialization.


SBIR/STTR authorization and funding
The SBIR and STTR programs and similar authorizations in countries outside the US were established to utilize R&D funding to stimulate innovation among small businesses with commercialization in mind, as well as meet the R&D needs of governments. Many optics and photonics companies depend on this funding source to spur their growth and development. SPIE encourages continued investment through these means.


Science and security: Export controls and foreign investment
Clear guidelines, that limit scope to the most sensitive technologies, are key to ensuring that companies and universities are not overburdened with export controls. Export controls should also be written to allow for the continued growth of optic and photonic technology and research. Additionally, as much is possible, international, private investment in technology should be encouraged through appropriate and clear guidelines and respect for intellectual property. Guidelines governing reporting requirements by innovators should be clear, fair, and allow for continued international collaboration.

Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education
SPIE supports continued investment in STEM education at all levels. Prioritizing education programs that promote diversity and efficient use of resources is critical to the future competitiveness and economic prosperity. Additionally, SPIE calls upon colleges and universities to provide or facilitate access to research experiences for all undergraduates studying in relevant STEM fields.