Stage 2: Early Planning: Developing your Idea

Submit your Expression of Interest and Development Trip Funding Application to ISS at ISS will support you in finessing the administrative side of the Expression of Interest, as you develop this into your full International Field School Proposal and then your Document Submission Form to SCIA. Expressions of Interest and Development Trip Funding Applications need to be submitted to ISS by January 31 for International Field Schools running in the Summer of the following year. If you are developing an International Field School for a Fall or Spring term, contact for guidance surrounding timelines.

Stage 2

Roles and Responsibilities

International Field School Roles and Responsibilities

Who can be hired to work on an International Field School?

Field School Directors may hire faculty, research assistants, foreign academic staff, general International Field School assistants, or volunteers to assist with their programs.

Hiring an individual for an academic-related appointment at SFU (e.g. sessional instructor, lab assistant, research assistant), must be done through your department. Hiring for a non-academic appointment and for guest lecturers (e.g. contract for an International Field School assistant) can be done with the assistance of ISS.

All International Field Schools must adhere to SFU’s Conflict of Interest (GP 37) policy. Review this policy in deciding who you will hire for the program.

Can I hire volunteers to support an International Field School?

If you plan to have volunteers support your International Field School development or operations, there are additional considerations.

  • Determine if the individuals are indeed volunteers. Volunteers do not receive any financial compensation, nor do they receive benefits such as accommodation, classes, meals, or travel which could be deemed as payment in lieu of cash.
  • If they are deemed to be true unpaid volunteers, then you would need them to sign the SFU Volunteer Agreement, in addition to the waiver already used for the International Field School participants. Contact ISS for the most up to date SFU Volunteer Agreement.
  • For volunteers in particular, it is important to be very clear about roles and responsibilities so that everyone – including the student participants – understands their roles.
  • It is critical to ensure that the work being done by volunteers does not impinge on work that should be done by a unionized or associated staff member.

What Constitutes a Strong Expression of Interest and Development Trip Funding Application?

  • The proposed program meets SFU’s definition of a field school (above).

  • The proposed program has articulated learning goals that are realized in both the curricular and co-curricular components of the program and that effectively implement experiential learning practices to utilize the International Field School location.

  • The roles and responsibilities of SFU faculty, staff, contracted staff and organizations providing services for the program are clearly articulated.

  • The rationale of why you wish to develop and lead this program is clear, as well as your readiness, including any additional training needed.

  • The budget reflects the itinerary, and results in program fees that are accessible to students.

Budget: Financial Considerations

At this stage in the planning process you will need to develop a budget outline for the International Field School as part of the Expression of Interest. Please use the International Field School Budget Template (login required) to do this. You may also wish to view an International Field School Sample Budget (login required). If you design a program with high costs, it will impact the number and the profile of students the program will attract. This affects both access and participation.  Thinking about costs early in the design of an International Field School is important to its feasibility and sustainability.

International Field School program fees tend to range from $2000 (two weeks abroad in a single location) to $5000 (six weeks or more abroad, multiple locations). These program fees do not include tuition. They also do not usually include international airfare. For more information about program costs and how to keep costs manageable for students, see Access and Participation.

There are some important considerations to keep in mind as you begin outlining your budget:

  • SFU International Field Schools are run on a cost-recovery basis, meaning that the program fees charged must cover the costs of the International Field School but cannot generate profits. ISS will open and operate a financial account for the International Field School. This account is owned by ISS and is not permitted to run a deficit/negative balance.
  • In developing the International Field School, you will be responsible for requesting cost quotes each year from organizations providing services for programs for in-country logistics to create a budget that is as accurate as possible. We recommend that you gather this information as soon as you can so that promotional material reflects accurate program fees.
  • You will be required to determine a maximum program fee based on your budget prior to opening the application for the program. You will then confirm the program fee once the number of students participating is confirmed (maximum program fee is based on the minimum number of participants).
  • If there are remaining funds at the end of the International Field School (above $100.00 per student) that are not used towards the program (excluding the contingency and admin fee), students will be reimbursed.
  • If the International Field School runs over budget, it is the responsibility of your academic unit to cover these costs.
  • Faculty continue to be paid salary and benefits by their academic department, and faculty salary is therefore not included in the budget. You will need to attain permission from your academic department to facilitate an International Field School.
  • Tuition and Student Activity Fees for the SFU courses taught within the International Field School are not included in the program fee. Students will be charged tuition separately based on the number of units included in the International Field School. Domestic students will be charged the domestic tuition rate and international students will be charged the international tuition rates. Your International Field School courses will be listed as delivered “in-person, off-campus.”  As a result, students are charged the “designated ‘off campus’, course only” rate for the Student Activity Fee, and are not eligible for the Upass.
  • Since the budget will be paid by student fees, there are certain types of expenses that cannot be charged to students. (See the list of costs not covered under Stage 3). All expenses must adhere to: SFU Business and Travel Expenses (AD 3.02)

Marketing: Determine the Target Audience

Field School Directors play an important role in marketing International Field Schools.

At this stage, you will need to determine whether there is sufficient demand for your proposed program. ISS requires a minimum of 10 students for International Field Schools, but your department/faculty may have higher requirements. You may wish to survey your students, speak with your program’s advisor, or hold a general Study Abroad info session with ISS to get a sense of whether or not there is interest in the proposed International Field School.

You will also need to decide:

· who will be your target audience for promoting this International Field School

· who the program will be available to (SFU students, visiting students from other institutions, undergraduates, graduates, students in a specific year, students in other departments, etc.)

· any eligibility requirements for the program, including prerequisite courses (this will be needed for your International Field School Proposal, and ISS will recommend basic eligibility requirements)

Participation of Visiting Students from Other Institutions in International Field Schools

  • Students from other institutions may also participate in SFU International Field Schools, by being admitted to SFU as visiting students.
  • Eligible non degree-seeking students can be admitted to SFU for the purpose of International Field Schools through ISS (undergraduate students) or Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (graduate students). They do not have to apply directly to the university through admissions.
  • When determining whether to offer a program to visiting students from other institutions, your Expression of Interest should clearly articulate how this may benefit your academic unit and/or SFU (eg. recruiting transfer students, recruiting for graduate studies, elevating status of the program, etc.).


As part of the Expression of Interest, you will need to develop an itinerary of activities that you plan to include in the International Field School. This should include:

· field trips

· transportation

· accommodation

· classroom times and locations

· group meals (ISS recommends 1 per week)

While you may not know all of these details at this stage, complete as much of this template as you can so that you can build on it as you develop your proposal. Planning your International Field School Itinerary will also help inform the planning for your International Field School Development Trip.

Risk Management: Safety Considerations

Risk management and mitigation planning is not required for your Expression of Interest, however, it is important to include the considerations from the very start of your planning.

As part of the International Field School Proposal and in preparation for SCIA, Field School Directors are required to complete a Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan in collaboration with the Travel Safety Program in Safety and Risk Services. International Field Schools must adhere to the University Policy on International Activities (GP 23). SCIA will use the SCIA Risk Assessment Guidelines to determine whether your International Field School adheres to GP 23. Consider these guidelines and GP23 throughout your planning process and International Field School Development Trip.

SFU does not operate International Field Schools to countries or regions for which Global Affairs Canada has issued a travel advisory of ‘Avoid all non-essential travel’ or ‘Avoid all travel’.

Email your proposed itinerary to International SOS at  to receive a travel briefing identifying safety concerns, which you can use in your risk mitigation planning with SRS. You can also contact ISS as well as the Travel Safety Coordinator at Safety and Risk Services for assistance.

Minimum Safety Standards

  • In designing your program, keep in mind that International Field Schools must meet the minimum safety standards for transportation and accommodation. If this is not feasible in the locale, identify strategies to mitigate perceived risk.

SFU Minimum Safety Standards – Transportation and Accommodation

Additional Safety Considerations

  • Field School Directors must stay in the same geographical location as the International Field School throughout the duration of the program, including during non-field school time (e.g. weekends).
  • Students are not permitted to rent or operate a motor vehicle or ride a motorcycle, or accept employment in the foreign jurisdiction, or participate in extreme activities (including but not limited to, bungee catapulting, ice climbing, and parapenting) during the International Field School.
  • If you, as the Field School Director, plan to drive the group you will need to submit proof of a valid driver’s license and adhere to the Vehicle Use and Insurance Guide, which can be found on the SRS website.
  • The Field School Director is required to be reachable in case of emergencies at the number provided to ISS 24/7 while in the field.

Contact the Travel Safety Program in Safety and Risk Services for further information at

Leveraging Partnerships

Field School Directors are encouraged to work with current SFU partners. SFU International Engagement by Country provides a list of SFU’s partnerships and engagement.

ISS has compiled suggestions for Deepening International Partnerships through International Field Schools, which can contribute to making a good field school something great.

If you would like to discuss options for leveraging partnerships contact the Manager, International Mobility at ISS at

Access and Accessibility of the International Field School

In seeking to remove barriers to accessing International Field Schools and increase participation in these programs, it is important to consider the aspects of program design that influence access and participation. Cost and program length are key factors, but so are academic considerations such as whether the International Field School has been integrated into the core curriculum such that it fulfills degree requirements.

See Access and Participation for practical approaches and tips for increasing access and participation, including strategies for how faculty can encourage students to participate and how to keep student costs manageable.

Additional considerations that may impact access and participation as well as how the program can be marketed can be found under Stage 3: Marketing: Important Considerations.

Accessibility for Students with Disabilities

  • Simon Fraser University recognizes and affirms the rights of students with disabilities who are academically qualified, to have full, fair and equal access to all University services, programs and facilities and to be welcomed as participating members of the University community. The University must provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities up to the point of undue hardship, – as per SFU Accessibility for Students with Disabilities Policy.
  • Field School Directors must make reasonable modifications to International Field Schools to support access for students with disabilities who are registered with SFU’s Centre for Accessible Learning (formerly the Centre for Students with Disabilities). SFU’s Centre for Accessible Learning can provide support on this.

Human Rights

  • International Field Schools must abide by all relevant SFU policies.
  • International Field Schools must adhere to the SFU Human Rights Policy (GP18)
  • If you have questions or need advice, please contact SFU’s Human Rights Director Marie Brunelle at

Academic Planning and Curriculum Integration

Integrating Curriculum into Broader Academic Programs and Goals

Integrating International Field Schools into the broader goals of the academic unit allows for the programs to be embedded within students’ academic plans. The objective is to create a space for International Field Schools that is more than an “add on” or “elective” but rather a clear part of the program pathway for students. In working towards integration, consider how the International Field School you are developing fits into your faculty and department as well as whether it may compete with other study abroad programs.

View the Integrating Curriculum into Broader Academic Programs and Goals page for information on why curriculum integration is important, and how to approach it.

In planning your International Field School, you will need to determine:

· Program length

· Subject area and level of courses

· Course numbers and descriptions (as well as prerequisites)

· Methods of evaluation

· Number of units - In order for participants to be eligible to apply for financial aid, International Field Schools are usually full-time programs. While full-time undergraduate enrollment is considered 9 units for bursaries and loans, 12 units is required for students receiving scholarships. We encourage you to consider this when designing your International Field School to help make the costs more accessible to students.

In making these decisions ISS encourages you to consider the following questions:

· How can you maximize participation? Could it be an interdisciplinary program? Could it be open to students at other institutions?

· What barriers may exist to students’ participation (cost, prerequisites, etc.)? How can these be minimized (fewer academic units, full-time program so students can apply for financial aid, reducing prerequisites or allowing for co-requisites)?

· How will the curriculum interact with the location to produce unique experiences not possible in a classroom?

Typical International Field School Courses

International Field School courses:

· Are usually 9-12 units taught across 3-4 courses

          · Courses should be standard graded courses

· Are considered “in-person/off-campus” courses

· Can be taught both at SFU and in the field

· May be comprised of Special Topics or Directed Studies courses in addition to your department’s existing courses

· May be cross-listed if the International Field School is an interdisciplinary program

· May be WQB

While new International Field School courses may initially be offered as “Special Topics” and/or “Directed Studies”, in the longer term, formal approval and identification of these courses within your department’s curriculum supports academic integration.

Which Term to Run an International Field School

  • Most International Field Schools are offered during the Summer term. Summer is often when faculty are able to teach off-campus, and when students are most likely to be seeking short-term study abroad opportunities. Running your International Field School in the Summer term also maximizes the amount of time to promote and recruit for your program – promotions for Summer programs take place during the Fall and early Spring terms.

  • If running as a Summer program, we encourage you to offer the program as a full Summer term program (May – August) regardless of how long your in-field component will be. This gives you flexibility to make a final assignment due later in the term, giving students time to reflect on their in-field experience.

  • Summer programs can also be offered as Intersession (May – June) or Summer Session programs (July – August) though this may affect financial aid eligibility.
  • If your in-field component is shorter than 2 weeks, you can consider offering it in-between terms (e.g. the last 2 weeks of April or August). April would be considered a Spring International Field School and August would be considered a Summer International Field School.

  • You may offer your International Field School in the Fall or Spring term, but consider:

·   Many students will have required courses to take during those terms, which can make recruitment challenging. However, if your program is offering core program courses and is targeted primarily to major students, this approach could work well.

· The recruitment period for Fall and Spring International Field Schools is not ideal so it is recommended to plan even further in advance for a Fall or Spring International Field School in order to extend the recruitment period.

Planning Your International Field School Development Trip

Is there funding available to support the development of International Field Schools?

  • International Services for Students makes limited funding available to support the international travel that may be required for the development of new International Field Schools or for significant changes* to existing International Field Schools. Funding is awarded by application and selection. The funding amount is based on fund availability and demonstrated need up to a maximum of $5000.
  • This funding is only available to individuals who are developing a program with ISS that is expected to be operated as an official SFU International Field School. Only one development trip funding application may be approved for the lifetime of each International Field School.
  • If your proposed trip is part of a longer time abroad (e.g. research, vacation, etc.) the amount requested in your application should reflect only those costs that are directly related to the International Field School development activities.
  • This funding serves as one of many means of possible financial support and is not intended to cover all costs involved in developing an International Field School. Since International Field Schools are a collaborative effort between ISS and the academic department/faculty, proposals with funding sources, both internal and external, additional to this funding are encouraged.

*For the purpose of the International Field School Development Trip Fund, “significant changes” are those that would require a new International Field School Proposal or Revision Proposal to be submitted to (SCIA),e.g., a significant change in program location(s).

How do I apply for International Field School Development Trip Funding?

  • The Development Trip Funding Application is submitted as part of the Expression of Interest and Development Trip Funding Application. Applying for this funding is optional. If you do not wish to apply, omit the required documents from your application.
  • An itinerary of your development trip as well as a budget for the development trip are required as part of the application. You can format the itinarary as you wish, but please use the below budget template.

Budget Template:

Appendix F - International Field School Development Trip Budget 

  • The deadline for these applications is January 31, 2022. You will receive a response from ISS within two weeks.

How can I use International Field School Development Trip Funding?

  • The International Field School Development Trip Funding may be used in accordance with institutional travel policy (AD 3.02) for the following costs as/if required: international airfare (economy class only), accommodation, ground transport, per diems, and possibly other costs as appropriate. It cannot be used for costs such as: medical insurance, trip cancellation insurance, inoculations, gifts, alcohol, etc.
  • Funding recipients will receive a cash advance from ISS to cover 2/3 of the approved amount, normally at least one month in advance of their travel. While abroad, recipients will be expected to follow regular university policies and rules regarding travel expenses, including collecting all necessary receipts and organizing/presenting them in accordance with SFU policy (ISS can advise on this).

Suggestions for activities within your International Field School Development Trip

  • Plan to carry out the proposed itinerary for the International Field School to the extent possible in order to identify any logistical challenges.
  • Use transportation (where possible) that you intend to use for the International Field School.
  • Visit and (where possible) stay at the accommodations that will be used for the International Field School.
  • Ensure that the transportation and accommodation meet the SFU Minimum Safety Standards – Transportation and Accommodation
  • Meet with organizations providing services for programs to discuss plans for collaboration (e.g. co-teaching, peer to peer interaction).
  • Visit sites where you plan to take the students to determine connection to curriculum, which activities to prioritize, and logistical considerations.
  • Take photos and videos of program locations to be used during promotion of your program.


  •     Discuss Expression of Interest and Development Funding Application with Department Chair
  •     Get your Expression of Interest and Development Funding Application signed by your Dean and Department Chair
  •     Submit Expression of Interest and Development Trip Funding Application (including appendices) to ISS by email at
  •     If approved, plan and make International Field School Development Trip (if you applied for funding)