Field Code of Conduct

Yale Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences 

Code of Conduct in the Field

An important part of the research and teaching mission of the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS) is conducted away from campus, often in remote and isolated locales (the “field,” for short). Many of us find field work rewarding in ways different from the satisfaction that we get from regular laboratory or office work. Field work can be unusual, sometimes unpredictable; it takes place in non-campus settings; it lets us enjoy the great outdoors; it cultivates the camaraderie of participants. These are all aspects that may make field work seem out of the ordinary. However, field work is still work, and it takes place in a professional setting.            

Field safety is every bit as important as lab safety; this is true for all participants wherever field research or instruction is conducted, for whatever purpose. Yale University’s Policy on Environmental Health & Safety applies while traveling and in the field, as it does on campus.        

Field work is also a privilege. By enabling, and in many cases funding, field trips and excursions, the EPS Department allows students, employees, and faculty to conduct field work. This privilege is contingent on departmental community members conducting themselves in a manner that allows for a safe, inclusive, respectful, accessible environment for all participants. 

Our departmental Code of Conduct in the Field is meant to supplement Yale’s Policy on Environmental Health & Safety for the particular circumstances under which field work is conducted. It articulates policies and guidelines for all participants, including trip leaders. Consequences for violating these policies are articulated in the document and can include, in extreme circumstances, prohibitions on leading or participating in future field excursions. 

The Code of Conduct in the Field is also a compact between all of us, as a community. By participating in an EPS field trip, participants agree to abide by the policies and guidelines and to uphold the shared values articulated in this document.

To the greatest extent possible, the Department seeks to make the field an inclusive and accessible educational environment. Prior to selecting field localities, trip leaders should carry out a region- and activity-specific risk assessment, paying particular attention to whether or not a given location is safe and welcoming for all participants, regardless of their personal characteristics (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender, disability, etc.).

Upon the conclusion of all field excursions, all participants will be given the opportunity to fill out an anonymous questionnaire that will gather feedback on their experiences and provide an avenue for suggesting improvements or reporting of any inappropriate behavior.

The Field Code provides a list of preparations that must be made by trip participants and leaders. Leaders and participants in field expeditions should use the Code as a set of guidelines in preparing for the trip, with adequate time and consideration for all aspects of the trip planning. These preparations are separate from—but equal in importance to—the scientific preparations that participants make for field excursions.


It is expected that the trip leader(s) will organize a pre-trip meeting for all participants, going through the Code in depth, and making sure all participants are familiar with its contents.


Yale Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences 

Code of Conduct in the Field

This code provides guidelines for respectful and safe behavior on EPS field trips. It conforms to Yale University’s Policy on Environmental Health & Safety and is also tailored to EPS-specific circumstances. The guidelines apply to all trip participants.

·   If I am a trip leader, I have

O   Carefully considered safety aspects in the selection of field localities, and discussed region- and activity-specific risks with all participants.

o   Created an itinerary for the trip (to the best of my ability) and shared it with the EPS emergency contact for this trip and all trip participants.

o   Considered the level of physical activity appropriate to the group, and shared this plan with all participants. 

o   Engaged with participants needing disability-related accommodations on how I can help them learn and thrive in the field.

o   Tailored the EPS field trip packing list shared with all participants to our specific destination.

o   Committed to promote the safety and comfort of all trip participants, including providing specialized safety gear where appropriate (e.g., reflective vests for busy road sites, hard hats for cliff hazards), stopping for bathroom breaks as requested, and making sure drivers can safely drive (with adequate sleep and backup drivers when possible).

o   Participated in a Wilderness First Aid class, or received and documented similar training obtained elsewhere, as appropriate for the field conditions.

o   Committed, to the best of my ability, to lead by example in upholding every item in this Code of Conduct.

For all participants:

·   I have had the opportunity to discuss any issues with trip organizers and fellow travelers. In order to prepare for my trip, I have been made aware in advance of training options in which I could partake to increase my comfort level and experience. I have reviewed the information enclosed in the accompanying trip preparation packet and have filled out the required medical and dietary questionnaires. In good faith, I have provided the trip leader(s), on a confidential basis, with any medical information that may be relevant to my health and safety in the field.

·   I have been given and have reviewed the itinerary. I have been made aware of country- and culture-specific issues which may affect my personal comfort and safety, and accept the risks as they have been described to me. However, as stated below, I may request to be removed from the field if I find the environment unsafe. 

·   I have an expectation of access to first-aid materials and supplies, and expect leaders and possibly fellow travelers (including myself) to be trained in how to use them. Examples of adequate training include, but are not limited to: First Responder and CPR Training certificates, Outdoor & Wilderness Guide certificates, the Yale Driver Safety course, etc.

·   I have an expectation of access to personal space, free from bullying or harassment. I cannot be compelled into situations where a power imbalance could cause harm or unreasonable discomfort. I can give input and feedback on group assignments and activities.

·   I have an expectation of access to personal care. While I understand that hygienic facilities may be below campus standards, I have a right to sanitation, resting and sleeping arrangements that make the best of local circumstances. I am comfortable with the field-site specific constraints as communicated to me.

·   I have an expectation of access to adequate nourishment, and at no point should I be forced or feel compelled to partake in the consumption of alcohol, for which alternatives must always be available. I have had the opportunity to communicate and make arrangements for dietary restrictions and medical needs by filling out a pre-departure questionnaire, an example of which is provided here.

·   I expect to be given the means to contact and notify a campus advocate in case an inappropriate or dangerous situation arises. I expect to have access to communication (via cell phone or satellite phone, as appropriate) in a private place as needed, with no questions asked. I have the expectation that my campus advocates will have the power and means to extricate me from any dangerous situations and with any related expenses reimbursed by the department, Yale University, or affiliated insurance organizations. I have saved the contact information for the EPS on-campus contact for this trip and I understand the confidential and non-confidential avenues for reporting that are explained in this document.

·   I expect that I will be able to be heard, to file a complaint, and to receive assistance, about any aspects of my field experience that did not comply with the policies articulated by Yale’s Policy on Environmental Health & Safety or this Code of Conduct in the Field.

·   I will not engage in any of the following unacceptable behaviors:

o   Harassment, sexual harassment, bullying, or discrimination in any form. This includes, but is not limited to: verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, national origin, or socioeconomic status; inappropriate use of nudity and/or sexual images in public spaces; threatening or stalking any participant.

o   Physical or verbal abuse of any participant or community member. 

o   Reckless behavior that would endanger me or others.

o Drinking or using other legal intoxicants to the extent that my ability to act professionally is compromised.

o   Any use of illegal substances.

·   If I allow, enable, or engage in any of the aforementioned unacceptable behaviors, the consequences may include (but are not limited to): 

o   Immediate removal from the field.

o   Prohibition on my leading or participating in future EPS-sponsored field excursions.

o   Notification of my supervisor and department leadership. 

o   Mediation and counseling.

o   University-mandated consequences resulting from investigations by Title IX of the Office of Institutional Equity and Access.

Following the conclusion of the field excursion, participants will be encouraged to fill out a brief post-trip survey, which will help departmental leaders evaluate how well the trip conformed to the policies laid out in the Code. The department provides a template survey, although trip leaders may wish to modify some questions to suit their particular trip. Participants are also encouraged to make use of reporting avenues outside of the EPS department to report any problematic behavior; a summary of available reporting avenues is available on the department website

Mechanisms for Contact and Reporting

If you have been a victim of a violation of local laws, it may be pertinent to contact local law enforcement. To discuss whether the Code of Conduct in the Field is being met, or to report a violation thereof, engage the field leader, another member of the field party, the Chair or the Director of Graduate Studies, or the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

For this particular trip to _______________________________, on the dates of _____________________the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences campus contact is__________________________________________________.

The persons above are not confidential resources and may be mandated to report incidents. If you are not comfortable reporting to any of the above points of contact, do not hesitate to contact the support services at Yale University, listed below.

Yale University Confidential Resources

Confidential Resources are support and advocacy services on Campus that are available for consultation and reporting. Information shared with Confidential Resources (including information about whether an individual has received services) will only be disclosed to the Title IX Coordinator or any other person with the individual’s express written permission, unless there is an imminent threat of serious harm to the individual or to others, or a legal obligation to reveal such information.               

Sexual Harassment and Assault Response & Education Center (SHARE)

55 Lock Street, Lower Level

New Haven CT 06511

24-hr hotline: (203)432-2000;

Office of Institutional Equity and Access

Provides avenues for filing formal complaints of discrimination or harassment other than gender discrimination or sexual misconduct. All inquiries are confidential.


Valarie Stanley, Senior Director;; (203)432-0849

or the following Deans’ Designees:

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences: Michelle Nearson, Dean of Graduate Student Development and Diversity;

Yale College: Melanie Boyd, Dean of Student Affairs;

Burgwell Howard, Senior Associate Dean of Yale College;

Mental Health & Counseling

55 Lock Street, 3rd floor

New Haven CT 06511

(203)432-0123; 24-hr acute care: (203)432-0123

Student Accessibility Services

35 Broadway (rear), Room 222 

New Haven, CT 06520


Walden Peer Counseling (undergrads)

Confidential counseling staffed by Yale undergraduates

Welch Hall basement, Entryway B, room A-05

New Haven, CT 06511

8pm-2am EST hotline: (203)432-8255 ;