The conduct of the student during the project is of utmost importance. Students are expected to conform to standards of conduct consistent with the maintenance of the reputation of Wildlands Studies, including regular attendance in all classes and field study activities, and to conform to all applicable rules, regulations, and policies. Students are expected to conduct themselves appropriately at all times and not engage in any conduct which in the judgment of the Instructor/Leader and/or other officials of the Project jeopardizes the student’s own welfare or that of fellow participants and/or the quality of the Project. Prohibited conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following: the use of physical or verbal violence, use of any illegal or inappropriate substance, violating the laws of the Host Country, openly abusing the customs and morals of the community, and unauthorized absences from classes. Failure of a student to conform to said standards of conduct may result in the termination of the student’s participation in the Program. In the event that the Instructor/Leader of the Project, in his or her sole discretion, determines that the conduct or academic performance of a student is detrimental to the best interests of the Program, the Instructor may terminate the participation of the student in the Program. In the event of a termination, Wildlands Studies shall not be required to refund to the student any payment or portion thereof made to Wildlands Studies.
Risk management is the most important factor in the planning and preparation of Wildlands Studies projects. We have a structured risk management plan that is tailored to each specific project itinerary enabling us to adapt to the dynamic changes of the natural and political world to both prevent and respond to risk quickly. Although we work hard to prevent incidents, wilderness travel does come with inherent risks. Injuries and accidents can happen. Students should be aware of the potential for dangerous situations to arise. Our instructors are experienced backcountry field guides as well as academicians, and are certified in First Aid and CPR. As a part of our risk management strategy, we require standards of behaviour intended to maximize the safety of our students, our staff, our organization, and the local communities in which we visit.
Learning to identify and avoid potential risks is one of the most valuable skills that students can learn in the field. Wildlands Studies provides an orientation and overview upon arrival at our projects, and our instructors work with students throughout the program to gauge how to best manage risks that may occur in the project’s specific region. We expect students to acquire and use risk management skills on our projects, and as adults, accept responsibility for following our risk management protocols. We require all our students to sign a Participant Agreement and to show proof of medical insurance before participating in our projects. Wildlands Studies provides exciting and unique backcountry field study experiences and we strive to achieve our program and educational goals while preventing injury and illness.
For every Wildlands Studies project there are rules and protocols specific to that field location. Students will be briefed on these rules and protocols by Wildlands Studies faculty as part of the orientation.
None of the course instructors take pleasure in laying down rules and policing members of our team. We sincerely hope that our students will respect and abide by these policies, because students who fail to do so may be expelled from the program. These Wildlands Studies-wide policies are in effect during the entire project, from start to finish, including all program activities (both structured and non-structured), days off during the project, as well as transport to and from field sites. Violation of any of these policies may result in disciplinary action, and Wildlands Studies faculty reserve the right to ask students to depart from a project if they engage in behavior or activities that compromises the Wildlands Studies program or are believed to put the student or others at risk.
The alcohol policy for the Wildlands Studies Projects is as follows:
(1) When group members are engaged in class activities, traveling, or interacting with other people in the role of students, there is to be no consumption of alcohol. If there is any question about whether it is okay to drink in a given situation, the course instructor has the final say. Specific situations where alcohol is expressly forbidden include:
(a) Group travel on motor vehicles, including (but not limited to) buses, trains, cars, trucks and boats
(b) Group travel on foot, by bicycle, or other self-propelled conveyance
(c) Classroom sessions, meetings with guest experts, course-related interactions with local people
(d) Any activity that involves being in or on the water. Students who have consumed alcohol may not enter the water until the following day.
(2) Moderate consumption of alcohol is not prohibited when the group is at leisure (i.e., during “time-off” see policy below). However, if course instructors believe that a student’s alcohol consumption is endangering himself, or herself, or threatening other members of the group or the reputation of Wildlands Studies, then instructors will be obligated to seek advice on how to deal with this problem by speaking directly with the Wildlands Studies Director.
(3) Students must understand that irresponsible, discourteous, or obnoxious behavior, whether alcohol-induced or not, is embarrassing and threatening to the program and course instructors and will not be tolerated. If the instructor feels that a student’s use of alcohol is inhibiting the project in any way, they have the right to dismiss the student from the project.
(4) Students must also understand that course instructors stand to lose a great deal if an intoxicated student gets hurt or causes others to get hurt. That is why we are compelled to take a hard line on the issue of alcohol consumption.
(5) Problems derived from alcohol and student conduct will be handled by course instructors in the most expedient and professional manner that serves to protect the best interests of our program. No repeated warnings, no scolding, no drama. If it is not working out, the student will be dismissed and we will get on without them.
Wildlands Studies has a “no tolerance” policy on any drug use and students may be immediately dismissed from the program if we find that a student has been taking any kind of prohibited drug. Wildlands Studies Projects involve travel in countries that do not tolerate illegal substances. Wildlands Studies faculty reserves the right to investigate, search for and confiscate evidence or contraband, and report incidents to local authorities. Beyond being dismissed from Wildlands Studies, students who partake in drug use are subject to local authorities and laws, which may result in fines, arrest, and deportation.
Wildlands Studies supports and complies with all local laws in the countries we visit. We will brief students on local laws and expectations soon after arriving at the field study site. We expect students to comply with local laws. Any violations will result in Wildlands Studies disciplinary procedures and possibly penalties from local law enforcement including fines, arrest, or deportation.
We expect students to understand and respect local customs in the location of their project. Considerations include, but are not limited to, communication with local residents, knowledge of laws, knowledge of religious customs and holidays, and appropriate attire. Students will be briefed on cultural norms that differ from Western expectations, and will be expected to demonstrate competence and respect for these cultural differences as a guest in another country.
Wildlands Studies programs are academically intense and most, if not all, days during the program will have scheduled activities. During the few times off, typically a few hours periodically or 1-2 days over the course of the project, students are responsible for their own actions. Please note that all Wildlands Studies policies still apply during time-off periods.
Students must communicate their location to Wildlands Studies faculty at all times so that they can be located in case of an emergency. Typically, students travel together as a group with a faculty member. However, there may be times when the faculty have asked students to conduct independent research at a nearby location that they must travel to by foot. The specific protocols for signing in and out will differ among projects and will be explained by Wildlands Studies staff during the orientation to the project.
Wildlands Studies programs are intensely scheduled, with most, if not all days having program activities. This does not leave much time-off, and therefore, aside from visiting scholars and guest lecturers, visitors are not allowed during the program. If friends or family would like to visit off-site before or after the project dates, that is ideal. Students and their visitors should plan accordingly for their own off-site travel, as no accommodations are available at our field sites.
Any student who swims during a Wildlands Studies program, at or near Wildlands Studies field sites, or on time-off days during the project does so at their own risk. Any swimming in moving water is strictly prohibited unless Wildlands Studies faculty or staff are present and deem the situation safe enough to swim. Students may not jump into any bodies of water without faculty consent. Wildlands Studies does not allow any jumping off rocks into the water. Entering water within 24 hours after consuming alcohol is prohibited and will result in disciplinary action (see alcohol policy above).
Students may not ride in, drive, or paddle motor vehicles or boats without prior Wildlands Studies faculty approval. Seat belts must be worn in all motor vehicles where available. Any use of motor vehicles or boats by Wildlands Studies projects will adhere to all local laws including maximum occupancy, approved seating, personal flotation devices, radio protocols, rescue procedures and first aid and emergency equipment requirements.
Wildlands Studies courses can be intense as students, faculty, and staff live in close quarters for the duration of the project. This often encourages a strong sense of community. To maintain this strong sense of community and to promote a safe learning environment for all, Wildlands Studies prohibits all forms of harassment and discrimination because of gender, race, religion, age, sexual preference, national origin, disability, or personal history. Disparaging remarks do not belong in any Wildlands Studies learning or living space, no matter the intent. Each faculty member, staff, and student is responsible for ensuring that the living and learning spaces are free from harassment.
Any violation of Wildlands Studies policies will result in disciplinary action. Depending on the severity of the violation, Wildlands Studies faculty and staff will implement one or more of the following disciplinary actions:
Wildlands Studies faculty strive to provide a safe learning environment for all students. All students are expected to understand and to support the standards of behavior outlined in this document and presented during the field site orientation. If behavior is sufficient to result in dismissal from the program, Wildlands Studies staff will coordinate transportation to the original meeting place, typically the airport where the project started, at the student’s expense. At the original meeting place any responsibility for the student on the part of Wildlands Studies will cease. Financial obligations to Wildlands Studies as outlined in other sections of our website will still be in effect. Students who are dismissed from the program will not receive any credit for the course or any fee refunds.
All Wildlands Studies Projects seek to minimize our group impacts in the environments through which we travel. We follow the principles of Leave No Trace outdoor ethics to guide our backcountry decisions and demeanor.
(1) Plan Ahead and Prepare – This planning is focused on mitigating environmental impacts of activities, including knowing the environment and area so that times of high use by the public can be avoided; travel occurs in weather conditions and time of year when the area is more durable and resilient; being well-equipped to handle emergency situations with minimal environmental impact; and packing food amounts such that large amounts of leftovers need not be dealt with.
(2) Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces – In high use areas, this means remaining on existing trails and in established campsites. In low use and pristine areas use should be dispersed to avoid creating trails or obvious campsites. In all cases, Wildlands Studies groups clean up use sites before leaving, removing trash and refreshing obviously used areas (e.g., fluffing up matted grass, moved logs replaced, etc.).
(3) Dispose of Waste Properly – This includes “pack it in, pack it out” in terms of garbage and leftovers, but also refers to proper management of human waste including latrines, portable toilets, cat holes or carrying solid waste out, depending on the area of travel. Waste water from dishes or baths must be disposed of 200 feet from freshwater.
(4) Leave What You Find – Historical and natural artifacts should be left undisturbed. On many public lands, disturbing or removing these artifacts is prohibited.
(5) Minimize Campfire Impacts – In much of the pristine backcountry where Wildlands Studies groups travel, campfires are not appropriate, and camp stoves are used in most cases for cooking. When fires are appropriate (or essential), minimum impact methods are used (using existing fire rings or durable surfaces, collecting wood in a nondestructive manner, and cleaning up fire remains to the original condition).
(6) Respect Wildlife – We observe wildlife, but from a distance, avoiding any interference with migrations, sensitive times of year or sensitive habitats.
(7) Be Considerate of Others – Wildlands Studies project teams are a large group and we strive to reduce our impacts on others using the same areas, especially in the backcountry. This includes minimizing both the sight and sounds of our groups (i.e., placement of campsites, noise levels on the trail).
Wildlands Studies faculty will brief students about the specific methods to minimize environmental impacts in the area in which they are traveling. We expect students to participate and respect our philosophy.