NSF: Supporting a Safe and Inclusive Research Environment

Guidance on NSF-Supported Conferences, Workshops, and Symposia Requirements

It is National Science Foundation policy to foster harassment-free environments wherever science is conducted, including at NSF-sponsored conferences, workshops, and symposia. The NSF Proposal Award Policy and Procedure Guide (PAPPG), effective February 25, 2019, requires applicants requesting NSF funds for the purpose of carrying out conferences, workshops, and symposia to have a policy or code-of-conduct that addresses sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, or sexual assault, and that includes clear and accessible means of reporting violations of the policy or code-of-conduct.

Recipients of NSF funds to carry out conferences, workshops, and symposia must also provide this policy or code of conduct to all event participants prior to the event and at the conference/workshop/symposium itself.

Berkeley’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD) has provided a toolkit on ways to promote a safe and respectful environment in NSF -supported conferences, workshops, and symposia. Berkeley recipients of NSF funding for these types of activities are encouraged to review the OPHD toolkit.

Additionally, the following message complies with the above NSF requirements and has been approved for distribution by the UC Berkeley Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD). This message should be provided to all participants prior to and during NSF-supported conferences, symposia, and workshops carried out after February 25, 2019.

Dear Participant:

This conference/workshop/symposium is supported all or in part by the National Science Foundation under Award No. ________.

We are required by the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (Chapter II.E.7), effective February 25, 2019, to provide all event participants with information on the University’s policy on sexual and other forms of harassment or sexual assault as well as directions on how to report any violations of this policy. For purposes of this requirement, “other forms of harassment” is defined as “non-gender or non-sex-based harassment of individuals protected under federal civil rights laws, as set forth in organizational policies or codes of conduct, statutes, regulations, or executive orders.”

The University of California is committed to creating and maintaining a community dedicated to the advancement, application and transmission of knowledge and creative endeavors through academic excellence, where all individuals who participate in University programs and activities can work and learn together in an atmosphere free of harassment, exploitation, or intimidation.

The University has general policies prohibiting harassment and discrimination on the basis of protected categories, including the University of California Policy on Discrimination, Harassment, and Affirmative Action in the Workplace and the Student Code of Conduct. The University of California Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy is specifically focused on sexual violence and sexual harassment, retaliation, and other behavior that violates University policy (“Prohibited Conduct”). This Policy outlines the University’s responsibilities and procedures related to Prohibited Conduct in order to ensure an equitable and inclusive education and employment environment free of sexual violence and sexual harassment. The Policy defines conduct prohibited by the University of California and explains the administrative procedures the University uses to resolve reports of Prohibited Conduct. The University’s Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy applies to all University employees as well as undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. The Policy applies at all University campuses, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Medical Centers, the Office of the President, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and to all University programs and activities.

The full text of the University’s Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy may be reviewed on the UC Office of the President website. The University will respond promptly and effectively to reports of Prohibited Conduct and will take appropriate action to prevent, to correct, and when necessary and possible, to discipline behavior that violates the UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment.

Confidential resources, including the PATH to Care Center, are also available to those who have experienced sexual harassment, sexual violence, or other Prohibited Conduct in connection with a UC Berkeley event. Advocates can be reached 24 hours a day through The Care Line: 510-643-2005. For non-urgent questions or appointments, call the office at 510-642-1988. The PATH to Care Center can be reached at 510-642-1988. A survivor can make use of confidential resources at any time, regardless of whether the event has been reported to the Title IX office or other authorities. For more information about PATH to Care and other survivor support services at UC Berkeley, see the Prevention, Response, & Support website.

Any person may report incidents of sexual violence, sexual harassment, relationship violence, stalking, or other forms of prohibited behavior to the campus Title IX office, which is named Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD). Contact OPHD either by emailing ask_ophd@berkeley.edu or by leaving a voicemail at 510-643-7985.

Reports to law enforcement can be made to UC Berkeley’s police department (UCPD) for on-campus incidents or to the local department where the crime occurred. A confidential advocate from PATH to Care or UCPD staff can help determine which police department to contact. In an emergency, dial 911, or to reach UCPD’s emergency line call 510-642-3333. Reports to UCPD can be made in person at 1 Sproul Hall, or by phone through the non-emergency line at 510-642-6760.

Guidance on Off-campus and Off-site Research Requirements

NSF’s PAPPG (23-1) includes a requirement (effective January 30, 2023) for the AOR to certify that the grantee organization has in place a plan for safe and inclusive research environments (PSI-FVAR) for any proposal including off-campus or off-site research.

For purposes of this requirement, off-campus or off-site research is defined by NSF as data/information/samples being collected off-campus or off-site, such as fieldwork and research activities on vessels and aircraft.

The plan must describe how the following types of behavior will be addressed:

  1. Abuse of any person, including, but not limited to, harassment, stalking, bullying, or hazing of any kind, whether the behavior is carried out verbally, physically, electronically, or in written form; or
  2. Conduct that is unwelcome, offensive, indecent, obscene, or disorderly.

The plan also should identify steps the proposing organization will take to nurture an inclusive off-campus or off-site working environment, e.g., trainings; processes to establish shared team definitions of roles, responsibilities, and culture, e.g., codes of conduct; and field support, such as mentor/mentee support mechanisms, regular check-ins, and/or developmental events.

Communications within team and to the organization should be considered in the plan, minimizing singular points within the communications pathway (e.g., a single person overseeing access to a single satellite phone), and any special circumstances such as the involvement of multiple organizations or the presence of third parties in the working environment should be taken into account. The process or method for making incident reports as well as how any reports received will be resolved should also be accounted for.

The organization’s plan for the proposal must be disseminated to individuals participating in the off-campus or off-site research prior to departure. Proposers should not submit the plan to NSF for review. However, NSF may request the plan as a supplementary document.

PSI-FVAR Template

PIs submitting NSF proposals involving off-campus or off-site research after January 30, 2023 must provide SPO with a copy of a project specific Plan for Promoting a Safe and Inclusive Research Environment (PSI-FVAR) prior to the submission of the proposal. If required by NSF, the plan should be included in the NSF proposal per proposal guidelines. If the Plan is not included as part of the NSF proposal, SPO will require a copy of the Plan to be retained in the Phoebe proposal record for future reference. The PI/s should use this template to prepare the PSI-FVAR. For additional support & training in developing the PSI-FVAR contact EH&S at fieldsafety@berkeley.edu.

The following resources are available to promote safe and inclusive field experiences:

Referenced links if distributed in hard copy: