Guidelines for Undergraduate Fieldwork

Faculty supervising undergraduate students doing fieldwork away from the Yale campus should provide guidance to undergraduates to allow them to benefit to the maximum extent possible from their work. The following requirements are designed to help faculty supervise undergraduates doing fieldwork. 

  1. No student should be sent into the field unless someone on the research team (faculty member or postdoc) has first visited the site.

  2. Prior to departure, students should be provided with information about the time commitment of the fieldwork, the physical demands involved, attendant risks, contact information for an adult in the field and on campus, the forms of communication that are in place and available, and an emergency plan as detailed below. 

  3. If a student plans to attend an external field school, the DUS in the home department must approve the school as having provided the information required by these guidelines. If, for example, the external field school does not provide a pre-departure plan or a packing list, the student should request such from the external field school for approval by the DUS. 

  4. Students working with external PIs should ask that the PI fill out some type of external pre-departure form. 

  5. Students should be reminded just before departure to register their travel with the Office of International Affairs.

  6. No student should be alone in the field for more than a 12-hour period. Often students are dispersed during the day in different parts of the field. It is preferable that they operate in teams, but if they must work alone, there should be established plans for communication and specific contingency plans in place in the event of emergency.

  7. Students should also be provided with the pre-departure checklist available in the International Toolkit on the website of the Center for International and Professional Experience and a trip-specific packing list. A fieldwork experience can be ruined by the wrong pair of shoes.  Please remember that if students will be driving while in the field, they must have taken the university training described here. The DUS should receive a copy of the checklist from the student, indicating that each of the steps has been completed.

Fieldwork Pre-Departure Information

  • Location of fieldwork
  • Time commitment (hours per week, number of weeks, specific dates)
  • Physical demands of the work
  • Special risks associated with the site
  • Ways in which students will communicate while in the field
  • Main contact and contact information while in the field
  • Campus contact and contact information
  • Will students be required to drive while in the field?
  • If yes, have they completed the required University driver training?
  • In the event of an emergency, what plans are in place to insure the safety of the students? (predetermined meeting-place, means of communication, and evacuation plan)  

(September 2017)