Faculty-Led Domestic & International Trips: Keeping Students Safe & Maintaining Compliance
Challenge - Faculty-led study tours
- Choosing the right leaders, the right destinations, the right itineraries, and the right resources to mitigate or eliminate health & safety risks
- Anticipating and planning for the unexpected, from pandemic outbreaks to political unrest to severe weather events.
Whether foreign or domestic, faculty-led trips are uniquely powerful pedagogies and high-level liabilities. Enormously popular with students pre-pandemic, they will come roaring back in AY 2022-23 with more risk factors to consider than ever before.
Pre-pandemic, faculty-led foreign and domestic trips were enormously popular with undergraduate and graduate students. Semester and year-long study abroad programs are often deemed the ideal travel experiences for college careers. However, many students find them too expensive, too disruptive to their academic schedules, or simply not a good fit with their family, social and working lives. By contrast, a short-term study tour, led by one or more faculty members, is often economic, easy to fit between semesters or during a fall or spring break, and an exciting way to earn a few extra credits and build a resume.
Concurrently, faculty-led trips can pose a greater potential liability for your institution than a much lengthier study abroad experience since the faculty leaders assume direct responsibility for their groups. Therefore, understanding the legal liabilities of foreign and domestic short-term travel experiences and creating policies and procedures to mitigate these risks is crucial to meeting institutional-legal obligations and forestalling public-relations firestorms. Furthermore, we owe it to our faculties and students to ensure that every off-campus adventure is safe, secure, and enjoyable.
- Review pre-departure best practices:
- Travel project itinerary, participants list, emergency contact information
- Passports, visas, student health, and disability documentation
- Travel insurance
- Codes of conduct
- Safety and Security Protocols
- Faculty leader training
- Selecting and vetting third-party providers
- Understanding the legal liabilities of foreign and domestic short-term travel experience
- Creating policies and procedures to mitigate risk
- Develop on-the-road best practices:
- Safety in transit
- Safety on the streets
- Safety in housing
- Laws and customs
- Injuries and illnesses
- Keeping in contact
- Missing students
- Pandemic, political upheaval, and severe weather events
- Sending a student home early
- Worst-case scenarios: leader or student death
- Academic Division leaders
- Student Life Division leaders
- International Office staff
- Public safety leadership
- Current and potential faculty trip-leaders
- Any educator interested in learning more about study tour safety
Dr. Jim Castagnera holds an M.A. in Journalism from Kent State University, and a J.D. and Ph.D. (American Studies) from Case Western Reserve University. He worked 10 years as a labor, employment, and intellectual-property attorney with Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr and 23 years as associate provost & legal counsel for academic affairs at Rider University, where in 2018 he received the university’s highest annual award for distinguished service. He also did stints as a full-time law professor at UT-Austin and Widener University Law School.
Having retired from Rider in 2019, he is engaged in a portfolio of activities: Chief Consultant of Holland Media Services, a freelance-writing and communication service with offices in Philadelphia and Los Angeles; Partner with Portum Group International LLC, a cyber security & privacy consulting firm in Philadelphia; Of Counsel to Washington International Business Counsel; an Adjunct Professor of Law in the Kline School at Law at Drexel University, and an arbitrator for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Bio current as of July 2022.
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