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Volume 2, Number 1, Winter 2000 - Summer 2001

Interorganizational Task Force on Safety and Responsibility in Study Abroad

Responsible Study Abroad: Health and Safety Guidelines

The Interorganizational Task Force on Safety and Responsibility in Study Abroad?s Responsible Study Abroad: Health and Safety Guidelines continue to be the most comprehensive guidelines or standards available for US colleges and universities that support study abroad programming for their students in the area of health and safety. They were developed as a Joint Venture of AIEA, NAFSA, Council, NASPA, other professional organizations, and a number of study abroad providers.

The fact that these guidelines are supported by higher education organizations, to which most US colleges and universities belong, makes these important to pay attention to. The fact that these are ?Guidelines? rather than ?ideas? and that they use strong language like institutions ?should? rather than ?could consider? and then follow with 14 areas where institutions should have policies and procedures in place raises the level of responsibility for US colleges and universities. The fact that these have been readily available through the World Wide Web at the NAFSA Website since 1998 has given US colleges and universities a significant amount of time to have responded to them. Institutions would be well served by, at a minimum, reviewing the guidelines and putting together study abroad health and safety policies and procedures which provide an appropriate response for each institution and their study abroad programs.

Following is some background on their development (from the NAFSA Website:

To make study abroad as safe as possible, the Interorganizational Task Force on Safety and Responsibility in Study Abroad was formed in May 1997 by the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA), the Section on U.S. Students Abroad (SECUSSA) of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, and the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), as an outgrowth of initiatives that had been taken earlier by each of these organizations individually and by many other organizations and study abroad providers who were concerned about safety issues. The intention in forming a Task Force was to bring these efforts together. Representatives from several other organizations and from study abroad providers later became members of the Task Force, which collectively drafted the Guidelines.

Preliminary versions of the Guidelines were presented at the subsequent conferences of all three organizations and comments were requested from session participants. In addition, drafts of the guidelines were reviewed by attorneys from several colleges and universities and several changes were adopted as a result of their contributions.

The first formal draft of the Guidelines was produced at a meeting in Boulder, Colorado in January 1998, and the final draft at a meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in June 1998, after a thorough discussion of comments received from many study abroad practitioners.

Following are the most important Web links to find the Guidelines and additional background information about them:

Responsible Study Abroad: Good Practices for Health and Safety

Notes on the Development of the Guidelines

Members of the Task Force