Below is a list of frequently asked questions…
IFR is The Institute for Field Research, an independent, non-governmental, non-profit 501(c)(3)organization.
The mission of IFR is to transform individuals and communities through experiential learning and field research.
IFR exists to raise the bar on field school experiences for students while supporting high-quality research, teaching and learning that is accessible to students everywhere.
IFR is a non-profit which is organized as a 501(c)(3) entity. Our focus is on students, researchers, and the communities in which, and for whom, students and researchers contribute time and expertise. Research and teaching that is sited in a community and devised in collaboration with communities creates possibilities for mutually beneficial, reciprocal knowledge creation, friendships, and other interactions. IFR allows students, researchers and communities that might be restricted or siloed by their distinctive institutions, or other conditions, to join together through field-based learning, teaching, and research.
IFR field schools provide students an excellent in-the-field learning and living experience that offers college credit. Students are able to earn credit from the high-quality liberal arts institution, Connecticut College, which shares IFR’s commitment to field-based, experiential learning in diverse environments. All IFR field programs undergo a rigorous, multi-stage process that includes an on-site visit, peer review and curriculum assessment. The course content is evaluated by both IFR and Connecticut College.
IFR provides a range of benefits to its field programs including peer review assessment and feedback, annual evaluation and review, admissions and enrollment management, recruiting and marketing support, insurance, and social media support. A portion of the fees paid by students is used to pay the salaries of the staff that support students and field directors before, during and after their time in the field.
As a non-profit entity, IFR is able to accept donations from philanthropic individuals who want to support the mission and vision of IFR. These funds directly support research and student scholarships.
Most of the support for field research dispersed by IFR is received as student fees. Students pay toward their expenses for room, board, research equipment, staff supervision and teaching. Other costs that are covered by student fees include Connecticut College credits, insurance, and the management of field schools which involves an extensive vetting, review, and evaluation process, admissions and enrollment, grade reporting, and other student and field school support activities.
Extensive Application: Every field school director submits an extensive application package that provides a wide range of details about the student experience, living conditions, learning outcomes, research goals, and operation of the field school. The IFR ensures that all field programs meet or exceed the standards of Connecticut College’s world class experiential learning and pedagogy.
In-Person Visit to the Field School Site: Before the application package is sent to the IFR Academic Review Board, a seasoned archaeologist who is either a member of the Board of Governors or the IFR Academic Board or a senior member of the IFR staff make an in-person site inspection of the field location. This ensures that IFR communicates in clear, accessible terms the conditions that students can expect and IFR engages the field director about any factors that need to be addressed in order to ensure that students have the best chance for a great field school experience.
Critical Peer Review: The application package is read by the entire Academic Board of the IFR. The Academic Board members are all experienced field archaeologists, museum directors, curators, and directors of field programs that focus on research and teaching. This process is known as peer review, and it is the gold standard for critical reviews in science, humanities and social science fields.
Ongoing Evaluation and Feedback to the Field School Directors: at the end of each field school and during the field school, students are asked to provide feedback in the form of written evaluations. These are read and considered carefully. Any deficiencies or problems are engaged in a very serious way so that improvements can be made or other action taken.
Peer review means that people who are expert field archaeologists and researchers, that is, people who have actual hands-on experience running high-quality field-based projects themselves, are evaluating each potential IFR field program. Also, members of the IFR review board visit the field site and evaluate the facilities, the research focus, methods, and pedagogical commitment of the project director and others; the site, conditions in the community, and other aspects. An extensive report is written and is used in the deliberations of the IFR review board which makes a decision about each field program.
Connecticut College is the school of record for IFR field schools. All field programs that are approved by the IFR are submitted to Connecticut College’s internal curricular review process, which includes vetting by departments that accept programs for credits within their own majors/minor programs as well as a standing College committee that reviews all curricular proposals.
Clear no-tolerance policies are posted on IFR’s website. All project directors must affirm in writing that they have read and agree to abide by these policies which prohibit discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Students have a 24/7 hotline that allows them to report or seek assistance anytime day or night.
What training does IFR provide to help empower all team members to avoid harassment, discrimination and other negative outcomes?
IFR briefs all its field school directors with an extensive standards and information packet during an in-person conversation. This briefing and information packet includes all of IFR’s policies. All policies are discussed, and every program director signs the document affirming they understand and agree with the IFR policies.
Prior to the start of the field school, IFR staff arrange a dedicated, online meeting for each field school with the field school director, staff members, and all students present. During this meeting, IFR’s policies are described and discussed in detail. Students are empowered to contact IFR directly if they witness or experience any harassment.
IFR maintains a 24/7 Hotline when field programs are active, which allows anyone on the field school to report a problem. If a call is received on the IFR Hotline, our emphasis is on student or victim safety. People may be moved or an alleged perpetrator removed in order to ensure victim safety.
As is the case when there is a serious health emergency, an IFR Board Member or a senior IFR staff member is dispatched quickly to the field school to ensure student or staff safety, or gather reports and document the situation. An investigative committee may be formed, depending on the circumstance, in order to conduct interviews, determine the nature of the facts, and formulate a report for IFR action. Once the investigation is completed, the IFR Board receives the report and makes a determination about IFR’s actions. If claims of harassment or assault or discrimination are substantiated by an IFR investigation, IFR may offer support to the victim should they wish to submit a police report. If a student is involved, then a report may be made to the Title IX office of the student’s home institution. IFR may choose to terminate its relationship with a field program.
Every field school director formulates a plan for supporting the health, safety, and welfare of students, which includes identifying the location of medical facilities nearest the field site. Each field school director provides a custom briefing for students so that everyone is aware of the health-related issues, which may include food options, hazards to avoid, safety practices, proper use of all gear, and respectful personal and professional interaction norms. IFR Board members or staff may visit a field school while it is running. Also, at the end of each field school, IFR requires every field director to provide every student with an extensive student evaluation. This includes questions a wide range of questions about the quality of instruction, the concern of the instructor with student learning, the overall experience, and specific questions about harassment and discrimination, such as “did you witness any sexual harassment?” “did you experience any sexual harassment?” The results of these evaluations are shared with the Academic Board, Board of Governors, the field school director so that improvements are constantly being made.