SPIE Supports International Day of Light to Promote Awareness of Life-saving, Life-enhancing Light

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With the support of photonics companies and associations including SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, the Executive Board of UNESCO has endorsed the annual observance of an International Day of Light. The yearly event will provide a focal point for the appreciation of the role that light plays in science, culture, education, and sustainable development, in fields as diverse as medicine, communications, and energy.

Dazzling images entered in a photo contest helped raise awareness during the International Year of Light. A new photo contest will provide images for the International Day of Light. Ian Bell photo

Dazzling images entered in a photo contest helped raise awareness during the International Year of Light. A new photo contest will provide images for the International Day of Light. Ian Bell photo

The International Day of Light is an incredible opportunity for global education.

Observance of an annual International Day of Light (IDL) has been endorsed by the Executive Board of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) with the support of organizations including SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

Following the highly successful International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies in 2015, the International Day of Light will provide an annual focal point for the appreciation of the role that light plays in science, culture, education, and sustainable development, in fields as diverse as medicine, communications and energy.

“Light is such an inclusive topic and resonates with people from very diverse backgrounds," said SPIE Education Committee chair Anne-Sophie Poulin-Girard. "The International Day of Light is an incredible opportunity for global education that reaches beyond the technical community, and across disciplines, borders, and generations.”

The broad theme of light will allow many different sectors of society to participate in activities around the world to raise awareness of science and technology, art and culture, and their importance in achieving the goals of UNESCO — education, equality, and peace — said IDL 2018 Steering Committee Chair John Dudley and UNESCO International Basic Sciences (IBSP) Assistant Programme Specialist Jean-Paul Ngome Abiaga in a press release today.

The International Day of Light will be proclaimed at the General Conference of UNESCO in November 2017. The first celebration will take place on 16 May 2018 along with an official inauguration ceremony at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Plans are already underway for a wide variety of local celebrations and activities to raise awareness of the many different ways light impacts society.

SPIE has launched a "World of Light" photo contest offering cash prizes, to help raise awareness about the IDL and the vital roles that light and light-based technologies play in daily life.

The International Day of Light is administered from the IBSP of UNESCO by a steering committee that includes representatives from UNESCO as well as the American Institute of Physics (AIP); American Physical Society (APS); European Physical Society (EPS); the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD); the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP); the IEEE Photonics Society (IPS); Light: Science and Applications; the lightsources.org International Network; The Optical Society (OSA); Philips Lighting; SPIE, the International Society for Optics and Photonics; and Thorlabs. An advisory board represents all sectors of the community of light science and technology, astronomy, lighting and applications, art, energy, architecture, and lighting design, as well as representatives from international organizations.

About SPIE

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science, engineering, and technology. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library. In 2016, SPIE provided more than $4 million in support of education and outreach programs. http://www.spie.org

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Amy Nelson, Public Relations Manager
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