NSF Safe + Inclusive Work Environment Plan Requirements

For each National Science Foundation proposal that proposes off-campus or off-site research, there must be a plan in place that ensures a safe and inclusive work environment and describes how certain behaviors will be addressed.

For NSF-funded projects, KU Lawrence requires that this plan be: 

  • Developed by the PI using KU's NSF Safe & Inclusive Working Environments Plan for Off-Site Research template (.docx) and saved by the PI at the proposal stage.  

  • Provided to the Office of Research prior to an NSF award being set up.  

  • Implemented by the PI.

  • If an NSF directorate requires the plan (see below) as part of the proposal documents, KU Lawrence PIs must use the KU template and do not need to provide the plan to the Office of Research separate from the proposal.

  • The Office of Research recommends that PIs use the more comprehensive Safe + Inclusive Fieldwork Checklist (.docx) to create a thoughtful, thorough plan for ensuring a safe and inclusive fieldwork experience for all members of your research team. Elements of that plan can be condensed for your NSF supplement. 

Background information 

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. 

Beginning with proposals submitted Jan. 30, 2023, grantees are required to certify that they have a plan in place for each project with off-campus or off-site research that addresses: 

  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; and 

  1. Conduct that is unwelcome, offensive, indecent, obscene, or disorderly. 

Solicitations involved in NSF's pilot program

As of January 2023, several solicitations from NSF’s BIO and GEO directorates are piloting requiring the submission of a Safe & Inclusive Work Environments Plan that will be considered as part of the Broader Impacts criteria during the review process. A two-page supplementary document must address: 

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

  1. 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;  

  1. 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  

  1. Organizational mechanisms that will be used for reporting, responding to, and resolving issues of harassment if they arise.   

Find more information about solicitations that are part of the pilot effort to date on the NSF's Safe & Inclusive Working Environments Requirements webpage.

Broader Impacts review

SAI plans will be part of the merit review process under Broader Impacts. Reviewers will evaluate plans on the following:

  • Is there a compelling plan (including the procedures, trainings, and communication processes) to establish, nurture, and maintain inclusive off-campus or off-site working environment(s)?
  • Does the proposed plan identify and adequately address the unique challenges for the team and the specific off-campus or off-site setting(s)?
  • Are the organizational mechanisms to be used for reporting, responding to, and resolving issues of harassment, should they occur, clearly outlined?

Learn more about NSF requirements

Review FAQs from NSF about preparing + submitting SAI plans
Access FAQs