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Building an inclusive experience outside of the classroom

In CALS and across Cornell, many of us are involved in a field experience as part of a classroom or laboratory assignment, as part of a research program, or in building our academic or professional careers as scientists and researchers.

“In the field” can range from national to international, from wilderness to rural to urban — and living conditions can range from solo remote camping to shared accommodations in field stations, on field vessels or in dormitories.

Time in the field is essential to inspire students and build research programs, but can have devastating consequences if the experience includes harassment, bullying or discrimination. We've compiled research and resources to both educate you on the issues and provide mechanisms to adopt and enforce rules to ensure safe, accessible and inclusive fieldwork.

Recommended articles

Strategies that acknowledge that some individuals encounter dangerous situations in the field due to their identity(ies) and minimize the chance of conflict between and among researchers and other communities present at field sites. Amelia-Juliette Demery and Monique Pipkin, Cornell University.

A resource guide for faculty, staff, students, extension educators, outdoor advocates, volunteers and community leaders as allies of black, indigenous and people of color in the outdoors. Compiled by Don Rakow, Cornell University, and Laura Brown, University of Connecticut.

Suzanne Pierre P.h.D. ’19 shares insight gained from a student field ecology trip she led in the Adirondacks in the fall of 2016, highlighting racial division within natural spaces.

Additional Resources

AdvanceGeo Partnership: Empowering geoscientists to transform workplace climate

This website is dedicated to safe field experiences, with many resources of which we’ve included a sampling below:

Fieldwork safety: Strategies to protect at-risk researchers when conducting fieldwork

This website contains a recording of the February 2021 “Safer Science” panel discussion with interdisciplinary experts in fieldwork and diversity and inclusion, as well as a list of several field safety resources.

"Trainees report harassment and assault” (Clancy et al. 2014. PLoS ONE 9, e102172)

"Characterizing Field Experiences and their Implications for Career Trajectory" (Nelson et al., 2017. American Anthropologist 119:710-722)

This blog-style article provides tips for field team leadership and for participants – (Erin Pettit)

(Christopher Atchison and Brett Gilley)

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