NSF Safe and Inclusive Working Environments Plan for Off-Campus or Off-Site Research (Jan 2023)

Effective January 30, 2023, the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) was updated to incorporate Safe and Inclusive Working Environments for Off-Campus or Off-Site Research  language (Chapter II.E.9) which describes the new requirement for the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) to certify that Brown has a plan in place for safe and inclusive research for any proposal that proposes to conduct off-campus or off-site research. 

Definitions and Timeline for Requirement

Off-campus and Off-site research is defined by NSF as “data/information/samples being collected off-campus or off-site, such as fieldwork or research activities on vessels and aircraft.” Brown defines Off-campus as sponsored activities that take place on land, in buildings or facilities (e.g., research vessels) not owned or leased by Brown at locations where Brown’s facilities-related indirect costs do not cover these location costs.

Beginning in March 2023, several solicitations from BIO and GEO will require the submission of a Safe and Inclusive Working Environments Plan for research proposals (vs. education/ training) that will be considered as part of the Broader Impacts criteria during the review process. Additional Directorates are also expected to include this requirement in throughout 2023, details can be found here.

FAQs on Safe and Inclusive Work Environments Posted (April 2023)

The Plan

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

"a. 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 

b. Conduct that is unwelcome, offensive, indecent, obscene, or disorderly."

The plan must address the following four sections (maximum 2 pages):

  1. A brief description of the field setting and unique challenges for the team;

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

  3. Communication processes within the off-site team and to the organization(s) that minimize singular points within the communication pathway (e.g., there should not be a single person overseeing access to a single satellite phone); and 

  4. The organizational mechanisms that will be used for reporting, responding to, and resolving issues of harassment if they arise.  

The development and distribution of the plan is the responsibility of the award PI. The Plan must be distributed to each participant—in advance of departure for an off-campus research activity. To ease the administrative burden, OSP has prepared a template for PI’s to use, available upon request via email to [email protected]

For solicitations not requiring the submission of the Plan to NSF, the University requires a copy of the Plan at proposal submission stage to ensure that application package is complete in the event an award is made.


It is NSF policy to foster safe and harassment-free environments wherever science is conducted.  NSF’s policy recognizes that a community effort is essential to eliminate sexual and other forms of harassment in science and to build inclusive scientific climates where people can learn, grow, and thrive.

Brown’s policies which align closely to NSF’s include:

Brown University Training

Additional NSF Resources (from Webinar on February 7, 2023)

OSP’s Reference Page for Guidance published by Federal Agencies

Federal Agency Guidance on Notification and Reporting of Discrimination and Harassment