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Field Trip Policy

In response to California State University Executive Order 1062 (effective August 23, 2011), Cal Poly follows the following policy on field trips. As part of Cal Polys Learn by Doing philosophy, field trips are a significant part of students learning experiences.

Definition of a Field Trip:  A field trip is a university course-related, off-campus activity led by a faculty or staff member and designed to serve educational purposes. A field trip would include the gathering of data for research (such as at a geological or archaeological site), museum visit, participation in a conference or competition, or visits to an event or place of interest. The duration of a field trip may be a class period or longer, and could extend over multiple days.

Scope of this Policy:  This policy does not apply to activities or placements in the context of teacher preparation, intercollegiate sports, or service learning, all of which are governed under separate policy.

Definition of a Field Trip Leader:  The leader is the class instructor or other university faculty or staff member designated by the instructor who has overall responsibility for the development and implementation of the field trip.  Some leadership responsibilities may also be given to chaperones, university faculty or staff members who accompany the students on the field trip. Teaching assistants are not appropriate field trip leaders but may serve as chaperones.

Responsibilities of a Field Trip Leader

  1. Conduct a pre-trip evaluation using the "Pre-Trip Site Evaluation: Field Trip Worksheet" and submit the worksheet to the department. This may require a site visit, which can be omitted if the field trip leader can demonstrate and document sufficient knowledge of the field trip site. This could be accomplished by reviewing online, examining published materials, or contacting the site to discuss the visit.
  2. Complete the "University Field Activities Notification" (instructions located here) and distribute to students, preferably on the first day of class but definitely before the start of the field trip. 
  3. Ensure that students initial and sign the student portion of the University Field Activities Notification, preferably on the first day of class but definitely before the start of the field trip. If a student refuses to sign the form, print their name on the form, indicate in the signature area that they received a copy, and date the form.
  4. Ensure that students sign the "Waiver of Liability, Promise Not to Sue, Assumption of Risk and Agreement to Pay Claims".
  5. Submit copies of all required forms to the department/college, if the field trip is domestic, or to the International Center, if the trip is international.
  6. Provide a plan to accommodate any students with special needs. For assistance, contact the Disability Resource Center.
  7. Provide training for any equipment that may be used.
  8. Provide an alternate assignment for students unwilling to accept the risk of participation for “serious and compelling” reasons. (This general list of "serious and compelling" medical, financial, and personal reasons for not being able to participate is based on Academic Senate Resolution AS-103-80-IC, even though the topic of this resolution was different).
    Note: In a major where the field trip is a part of the degree requirements, this provision applies to the specific field trip but not the degree requirement. In practice this means that a student may opt out of a field trip to one site, but then must complete the requirement by participating in another field trip either at another site or time, if required by the program.
  9. Comply with the CSU Use of University & Private Vehicles Guidelines. Please also consult the Administration & Finance "Driver Safety" website. For additional information, see the Cal Poly Risk Management document, "Driver Safety Policy and Procedures"
  10. Take roll at the beginning and end of the field trip; attach the roll sheet to the Travel Request Form 1A at the completion of the trip. Students leaving during the field trip should sign out on the Field Activities Sign Out Release Agreement; attach the agreement to the Travel Request.
  11. For International field trips, comply with the International Center’s international travel approval process described on the International Travel page.
  12. Arrange all chartered air or bus travel through AFD Contracts and Procurement.

Responsibilities of the Department:

  1. Provide the Registrar with a department list of current courses that require or may require field trips.
  2. Ensure that the Cal Poly Catalog and all Course Proposal and Modification forms specify whether major courses require or may require field trips.
  3. Evaluate risk using the completed Pre-Trip Evaluation Worksheet.
  4. Ensure leader compliance with this field trip policy.
  5. If not the college’s or International Center’s responsibility, retain all required forms and documents for three years after the end of the academic year in which the field trip takes place. Electronic copies are permissible.

Responsibilities of the College:

  1. Evaluate risk using the completed Pre-Trip Evaluation Worksheet. 
  2. If not the department’s or International Center’s responsibility, retain all required forms and documents for three years after the end of the academic year in which the field trip takes place. Electronic copies are permissible.
  3. Ensure department compliance with this field trip policy.

Responsibilities of the Registrar:

  1. Indicate which courses require or may require field trips in the catalog.
  2. Update Course Proposal and Modification forms to identify which courses require or may require field trips.

Responsibilities of AFD Contracts and Procurement:

  1. Maintain up-to-date information on the risk management website.
  2. Comply with applicable provisions of EO 1041 "California State University Student Travel Policy" if applicable. The policy requires minimum insurance for chartered air or bus travel. The policy also specifies the type of written notice that must be provided to all students and the release, hold harmless, and informed consent provisions that all students must approve in writing.

Responsibilities of Academic Programs: Administer regular reviews to monitor and document compliance with this field trip policy; update requirements as necessary at regular intervals.


Academic Senate Resolution: AS-767-13 "Resolution on Cal Poly Field Trip Policy"  (PDF).  Adopted 4 June 2013.

Cal Poly Risk Management: "Field Trip and Activity Information".

Cal Poly Risk Management: "Driver Safety Policy and Procedures" (PDF).  Revised 1 October 2022.

Cal Poly International Center: "International Travel".

CSU Executive Order: EO 1041 "California State University Student Travel Policy".  Revised 20 October 2023.

Updated: 3/12/24

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