Safe & Inclusive Work Environments

The National Science Foundation (NSF) requires that for each proposal that includes plans to conduct research off-campus or off-site, there must be a plan in place for that proposal that describes how certain behaviors will be addressed and plans for an inclusive work environment.

USU Requirements

To comply with this requirement, Utah State University requires that:

  1. Each PI of a NSF proposal determine whether any off-campus or off-site research is involved in the proposal.

  2. If applicable, the PI must develop a plan, at the proposal stage, for each off-campus or off-site location using the USU template. The PI must upload the plans into Kuali prior to the proposal submission by Sponsored Programs. Plans may be reused and re-distributed for multiple off-campus research activities but must be updated if the specific content needs to change.

    • Some NSF solicitations require that proposers who include off-campus or off-site research as part of their project submit, as supplementary documentation, a Plan for Safe and Inclusive Working Environments. The USU template should be used to draft the plan uploaded by Sponsored Programs into

      PI's need to be sure the plan is compelling, adequately addresses the unique challenges for the team, and the organizational mechanisms used for reporting, responding to, and resolving issues of harassment, should they occur, are clearly outlined.

      Plans uploaded into, when required by NSF, are limited to 2 pages and need to follow NSF's PAPPG 23-1 standard content instructions and the additional proposal preparation instructions in the opportunity/solicitation.

    • The plan should only be submitted to NSF when/if requested or required by NSF.

  3. For subaward and collaborative proposals:

    • If USU is a subaward recipient on an NSF funded project with off-campus/off-site research, USU does not require the USU PI to complete a plan. USU will rely on the lead institution to provide and implement the plan.

    • For collaborative proposals, each institution is responsible for their own plan with regard to any off-campus or off-site performance their organization is facilitating.

  4. Prior to an applicable NSF award being set up by USU Sponsored Programs, a copy of the plan will need to be uploaded into Kuali.

  5. The PI disseminates the plan to each individual participating in the off-campus or off-site activities, prior to departure or involvement in those activities.

  6. The PI retains documentation of who received the plan (email or sign up sheet is sufficient).

Background Information

It is NSF policy (PAPPG, Chapter XI.A.1.g.) to foster safe and harassment-free environments wherever science is conducted.

"The NSF is committed to ensuring the safety and security of the people our awards support. We are committed to a nurturing research environment. One that is encouraging and supportive of all researchers. We have heard the voices of the wider community and have responded. We will continue to listen and to take action as a federal granting agency. NSF has no tolerance for harassment."

Dr. France A. Córdova, former Director, National Science Foundation

Utah State University is required to notify NSF of any findings/determinations of sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, or sexual assault (past or current) regarding an NSF funded Principal Investigator (PI) or co-PI, or of the placement of the PI or co-PI on administrative leave, or the imposition of any administrative action relating to harassment or sexual assault finding or investigation.

To better understand the systemic issue of gendered misconduct in STEM and ways to improve field science culture and accountability, please read the following:

Key USU Policies & Reporting Resources

Definition of Off-Campus or Off-Site

The intent of this requirement is to provide guidance and protection for participants when they do not have ready access to the on-campus in-person resources they normally do. If your participants continue to have such access, no plan is needed.

If participants are sufficiently distant from campus such that access to these resources is more limited than they would be if they were on campus (including, but not limited to, fieldwork and research activities on vessels and aircraft) then a plan is needed.

Utah State University further defines off-campus or off-site research for this requirement as USU-sponsored, scheduled, international or domestic travel activity by USU personnel to collect data/samples/information outside of a laboratory or other research-controlled environment.

Work from home by an individual employee would not, for the purpose of this policy, be considered “off-campus” or “off-site.” “Day trips” or excursions (e.g., to public places, schools, the state fair, a mall) where participants are returning without an overnight stay would not normally require a plan, but a plan should be created if the nature of the off-campus research activity is likely to create a larger-than-normal opportunity for harassment to occur (e.g., studies looking at sexual activities, incarcerated individuals, prior knowledge of harassment in the same setting, etc.). When in doubt, create a plan.

Attendance or presentation of research results at a conference does not require a plan; if participants will also engage in the conduct of research activities while attending a conference, a plan would be required. Meetings and conferences that do not include data/information/samples being collected are not considered off-campus or off-site research.

Data/information/samples being collected off-campus or off-site by any project team member, including team members from subrecipient organizations performing research outside their primary place of performance do require a plan.