Field Trips Policy
To establish guidelines and procedures for academic field trips.
Faculty, Staff, and Students.
The University of Kansas recognizes the value of experiential learning obtained through academic field trips. For the purposes of this policy, a field trip is an educational off-campus excursion that is part of a credit-bearing academic course or program. The University recognizes two types of field trips, mandatory and optional. A mandatory field trip is linked to course learning objectives, noted in the syllabus and/or course catalog description, and a student must have special permission regarding absence. Optional field trips may or may not be listed in the syllabus and cannot negatively impact a student’s grade if the student chooses to not participate. All field trips, whether mandatory or optional, are University sponsored events and, as such, all relevant University policies, and state and federal laws apply to field trip participants. This policy applies to mandatory and optional field trips unless otherwise noted.
A Trip Coordinator (usually the instructor of record) must be identified in writing prior to every field trip. For example, the Trip Coordinator can be listed in the syllabus or in class materials distributed to students about the trip. The Trip Coordinator oversees field trip logistics, provides transportation options to participants, collects participant emergency contact information, accompanies participants to the site, and enforces compliance with University policies by all persons participating in the field trip as would be expected in the traditional classroom setting.
Field trips and field trip objectives should be communicated with students as soon as possible and should include events logistics including but not limited to date, time, and location of the field trip. Prior to the field trip, the Trip Coordinator will instruct field trip participants on the nature of the activities that they will undertake, including any significant potential risks to participate. Instructors are encouraged to keep field trips within the bounds of scheduled class time. Should a trip extend beyond the bounds of scheduled class time, the instructor is responsible for providing documentation for students to submit to their other instructors concerning the student’s participation in the field trip.
A. Appropriateness and Accommodations
Field trip participants should not be put in a situation in which they do not have the appropriate training or skills to execute an activity that entails significant risk. In no case will an individual be forced to participate in a field trip or field activity that poses a danger that the participant cannot negotiate.
If a participant is unable to attend a field trip due to schedule conflicts, including but not limited to other academic commitments, work, or dependent care, the participant must give as much advanced notice as possible to the instructor to determine if other accommodations are able to be arranged. It is the instructor’s sole discretion whether to grant reasonable accommodations due to schedule conflicts.
If a participant is unable to participate in a field trip due to medical, physical, or psychological needs, the participant must give as much advanced notice as possible to the instructor to determine other possible accommodations. The University Academic Support Centers are available to assist the instructor and student with identifying reasonable accommodations. Please see Accessible KU and ADA Resources Center for Equity and Accessibility for additional information.
The Trip Coordinator determines transportation needs for the field trip and communicates the transportation plan to participants including meeting times and destinations. Additionally, the Trip Coordinator should collect emergency contact information for all participants.
The following modes of transportation are shown in order of preference of use for field trip transportation purposes by the University. The University should offer transportation to and from campus and could require that it be used by all participants. Transportation accommodations must be provided to eligible students for mandatory field trips.
The University recommends using a third-party bus company as the primary mode of transportation to facilitate travel for a field trip. Using a bus for a field trip requires advance planning and funds to pay a deposit. The bus company’s insurance should cover all field trip participants traveling on the bus for the field trip. See bus company resource guide.
b. State Vehicle
If the use of a third-party bus company is not a viable option of transportation, use of a state vehicle is the next preferred mode of transportation. Only properly licensed University employees are eligible to drive state vehicles during the scope and course of their employment. Arrangements for payment and scheduling for use of vehicle(s) need to be made with the corresponding department in advance of the field trip. KU’s vehicle insurance covers the authorized drivers and passengers traveling in a state vehicle.
c. Rental Vehicles
If a third-party bus company or state vehicle are not viable options of transportation, commercial rental vehicles are the next preferred mode of transportation. Only properly licensed University employees are eligible to drive rental vehicles obtained for field trip purposes. Using one or more rental vehicles may require advance planning and a deposit. Vehicle rental agreements should be signed on behalf of the University by an employee. The University provides liability insurance protection for vehicles rented for University field trips. For further detailed information regarding rental vehicles refer to Rental Vehicle Occupancy and Insurance Coverage policy.
Please note there are specific requirements regarding 15 passenger vans. Further information is available in the Rental Vehicle Occupancy and Insurance Coverage policy.
d. Personal Vehicles
Field trip participants increase their personal liability when using personal vehicles during field trips. Personal vehicles should only be used when all other viable options have been exhausted. If any students are permitted to travel by personal vehicle to and/or from a field trip, the students should be made aware by the Trip Coordinator that they could be personally liable for passengers and third parties in the event of an accident, and that damage to a personal vehicle is the responsibility of the student/employee.
C. Reporting Accidents/Incidents
The Trip Coordinator must report any auto accident involving a third-party bus, a state vehicle, or a rental vehicle within 48 hours to the KU Risk Management Office. For further details on necessary actions when involved in an accident involving a state-owned or rented vehicle, refer to the Use of Automobiles policy.
Within 24 hours, work-related accidents must be reported by the individual involved to the supervisor, Human Resource Management, and, if applicable, the Office of Civil Rights & Title IX. For further detailed information regarding work-related accidents, refer to the Workers’ Compensation policy.
D. Personal Liability and Responsibility
The Trip Coordinator and field trip participants are expected to adhere to all University policies while participating in field trips, including the Faculty Code of Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct and the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities (Student Code). The University is not responsible for any lost or damaged personal property while partaking in a University sponsored field trip.
For the purpose of this policy, field trips do not include internships, study abroad, service-learning assignments for individual students, on-campus excursions, or trips by co-curricular groups.
Field Trip: An educational off-campus excursion that is part of a credit-bearing academic course or program requiring an excursion for completion of degree.
Field Trip Participants: Faculty, staff, GTA/GRA/GAs, and students.
Mandatory Field Trip: The field trip is linked to course learning objectives, noted in the syllabus and/or course catalog description, and a student must have special permission regarding absence.
Optional Field Trip: The field trip is not listed in the syllabus and cannot negatively impact a student’s grade if the student chooses to not participate.
Students: Part-time or full-time students enrolled in the course or program.
State Vehicle: An automobile registered to the University of Kansas or another state agency.
Trip Coordinator: The instructor of record, faculty member, or another University employee designated to be in charge of a field trip.
02/07/2023: Updated link name.
09/01/2021: Updated IOA to Office of Civil Rights & Title IX.
07/21/2021: New policy published to the Policy Library.