Fieldwork often offers defining moments in geoscience careers. Positive experiences can represent exceptional recruiting opportunities to spark and maintain interest in the geosciences; unfortunately, negative experiences occur far too often. Fieldwork is also frequently isolated and often austere. This creates safety concerns of all types including harassment, bullying, and cliques. In an austere field setting it may not be possible for a person to effectively remove themselves from the situation. Environmental stress and isolation can lead to poor judgement. These concerns all require special vigilance by every person involved. Efforts have been made to clarify and improve policies by platform operators and field stations to address problematic behavior in the field; however, problems persist. In addition, some locations have safety concerns relating to race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity and/or religion. Such problems can be avoided altogether, or handled optimally, by an appropriately trained and coordinated field team. This document seeks to detail expectations for behavior, team member training and organization, and procedures and recommendations for dealing with and reporting misconduct.
UTIG conduct expectations
(See also Section 2: Conduct Expectations)
For each field deployment, a field team member will be designated as the On-site Field Safety Coordinator, responsible for developing and maintaining the list of contacts and resources that may be specific to the site, ensuring that all participants are aware of the presence and capacity of the On-site Field Safety Coordinator, and making best efforts to maintain a direct line of communication to UTIG’s Title IX Coordinator.
The On-site Field Safety coordinator should work to create a climate within the field team where relatively minor misconduct and conflicts are addressed in a constructive manner before being allowed to escalate to the point where they may undermine individuals’ safety or the ability of the team to accomplish their objectives effectively. In the field it is imperative to address any problems, real or perceived, early to prevent increasingly bad situations. Often an issue is a misunderstanding. Often there is not a “bad person” involved, just a personality conflict or unconscious action which can be resolved if brought to the proper attention. Team members should not “suffer in silence”.
A permanent employee at UTIG will be designated to serve as the UTIG Field Safety Coordinator, a point of contact to help ensure quick communication of incidents that occur in the field. A field team may designate a responsible and available person to serve as the coordinator for a specific project, or else this position will fall to the chairperson of the UTIG Field Safety Committee. The UTIG coordinator will be responsible for communicating relevant information regarding reporting procedures to the On-Site Field Safety Coordinator before the field experience, maintaining contact with the On-Site Field Safety Coordinator in the event of an incident, and contacting the appropriate office(s) in the event of an incident. Students and other team members will be made aware of the UTIG Field Safety Coordinator’s identity and contact information here on this form, during their pre-departure meetings and any updated communications in the field. Team members are free to report misconduct or Title IX violations that occur in the field directly to the UTIG Coordinator if they prefer or if it is the On-site Field Coordinator who is responsible for the misconduct. A third option is to file a Title IX report directly with UTIG’s Title IX Coordinator.
In addition, UTIG’s internal reporting system (see Section 5: Informal Reactions of this code of conduct) is another tool that field team members can use to report incidents or address conflicts that occur in the field. If the incident does not fall under Title IX, University non-discrimination policy, or serious fraud or scientific misconduct, this option allows a team member to file an anonymous complaint and potentially resolve the conflict by mediation within a restorative justice framework.
A special reporting responsibility for field personnel which is not present in the office environment is each team member’s responsibility to alert the Safety Coordinator if a personal problem or health issue arises which may endanger the safety of other persons or the success of the field project. For example, a health problem should not be allowed to deteriorate to the point of a medivac which endangers everyone involved. These and other issues with such an impact should be dealt with early and a non-emergency extraction plan developed if appropriate.
On-site Field Safety Coordinator:
This person is with you in the field and should already be known to you.
USA phone: _______________________________________
Local or satellite phone:_____________________________
UTIG Field Safety Coordinator:
This person is at UTIG but prepared to respond to reports from the field.
USA phone: _______________________________________
All UTIG field workers are strongly encouraged to participate in a bystander intervention training session before their first trip to the field and repeat the training every two years. Additionally, individuals designated as On-site Field Safety Coordinators are encouraged to seek more involved training, such as participating in a bystander intervention “train the trainer” course.
As discussed in the main body of UTIG’s code of conduct, bystander intervention techniques are powerful for recognizing and addressing problematic or dangerous conduct when it is happening. Quick use of interventions such as the “5-D’s” (see Figure 5) and effectively recruiting other bystanders to aid in a situation can allow conflicts to be addressed constructively in the moment.
All UTIG field workers are encouraged to fill out a survey after returning from their field program. The survey will be provided by the UTIG administrative staff when you request reimbursement for travel expenses and serves as another tool for reporting unsafe conditions or incidents of harassment in the field as well as suggestions to improve the experience of future field workers.
Coordination with collaborating institutions
When UTIG collaborates with another institution for a field program, UTIG will coordinate with the partner institution(s) before deployment to confirm that policies, guidelines, and accommodations will be in place that ensure the physical and psychological safety of all participants.
Specifically, well in advance of the field deployment, a UTIG person involved in the field program (PI or similar) will transmit a copy of this fieldwork appendix section and a reference to the complete UTIG code of conduct to the collaborators and will request similar documentation from their institution. UTIG’s front office administrators will help facilitate this handoff by confirming this has been done when field team members submit travel authorization requests.
These prior contacts between UTIG and the collaborating institution provide one or more opportunities for UTIG to communicate any special safety requirements or accommodations required by the field team (e.g., disability or dietary accommodation). If significant issues arise or the partner institution is not able to provide a code of conduct or similar guidance documents, UTIG should call a remote meeting attended by UTIG’s Field Safety Committee chair and a representative of the field program to resolve these issues and ensure the partner institution has adequate policies or guidelines in place to ensure the safety of UTIG field workers.
If inadequate anti-harassment guidelines or unsafe conditions arise once the team is already in the field, a meeting should be held in person with UTIG’s on-site field safety coordinator and the station leader, chief scientist, or equivalent representative to attempt to resolve the discrepancy between the guidelines in place and the UTIG code of conduct and/or this fieldwork guide.
 Partially adapted from Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) “Code of Conduct for Field Experiences”, unpublished to date
 Nash, M., et al. “Antarctica just has this hero factor…”: gendered barriers to Australian Antarctic research and remote fieldwork.” PloS ONE 14.1, e0209983 (2019), https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0209983.
 Demery, A.-J. C., Pipkin, M. A. Safe fieldwork strategies for at-risk individuals, their supervisors and institutions. Nat Ecol Evol 5, 5–9 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-020-01328-5.
 Reproduced from UTIG code of conduct