Why this code of conduct?


1. We aim to build and create an environment that enables learning.
Doing fieldwork is about renegotiating boundaries between oneself and another. Getting to know oneself through encountering others is an invaluable experience. Encouraging learners to experience this process does however not come without confrontations. Learning-by-doing necessarily includes making mistakes and –depending on the perspective– ‘failing’. Moments of confusion and vulnerability seem inherent to doing fieldwork, even for experienced researchers. To be able to provide support during and create openness about this process, our summer school basecamp needs to be a safe, inclusive and collegial environment. Therefor this code of conduct, firstly, serves as a means to develop and maintain a shared framework among trainers and trainees about their roles and responsibilities. We expect all participants, staff and affiliates of the organization to abide by and contribute to this code of conduct.

2. We aim to sustain a positive impact of our presence on Gozo and beyond.
We chose to create this learning environment on a small island and to embed it in its communities. While consciously choosing to host small groups only, our presence after many years does not go by unnoticed. Our project is known and appreciated on the island, and we collaborate with the communities of Gozo as much as possible. Staff, participants and affiliates of our project unavoidably represent our organization and its presence on the island. To be able to continue our project here, we need each and everyone associated with the summer school to share an awareness of this and the long-term presence of the project. This code of conduct thus helps to encourage and engage in respectful and ethical behavior.

3. We want to share our thoughts on ethics and conduct policies.
While our basecamp is situated in Gozo, we are also situated in a global and fast-moving educational environment. As an established and respected institution, we feel we hold the responsibility to share our views and praxis about ethical behavior in the field and its context. This code of conduct thus not only enables us to spread and discuss these views with new trainees and trainers every year, but also to engage in discussion with the wider community of anthropologists, educators, activists, students and so on. After more than a decade of experience in developing a sustainable and ‘off the beaten track’ learning environment, some bottom-up grown principles indeed can be ‘coded’.

The code

1. Non-discrimination and harassment
Expeditions wants all members in their projects to be treated equally, without discrimination of any kind based on race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status such as disability, age, marital and family status, sexual orientation and gender identity, health status, place of residence, economic and social situation. Harassment based upon an individual’s sex, race, ethnicity, national origin, age or religion will not be tolerated in any of our projects. We expect that you do not engage in harassment, nor tolerate such behavior towards others around you. By collectively performing a non-discrimination and harassment stand, we can maintain the pedagogical environment that enables expressing different opinions, bringing new topics to the table, asking questions, sharing, listening, debating…

When confronted with sexual harassment or other types of abuse, students are encouraged to discuss any incident with their personal mentors or another team member of their choice. In first instance, this person will look for solutions through mediation. In case incidents are too serious in nature or mediation is undesirable for other reasons, the incident will be communicated to the Expeditions board, which will advice on steps to take next. Depending on the requests of the victim, follow-up can be done with or without mediation of a trusted go-to person, and is designed in agreement with the victim. Sam Janssen, Mirjam Bussels and Marjan Moris are on site for process supervision regarding any incidents. They will also engage in outreach towards staff or participants in any kind of trouble.


2. Consciously dealing with ethics in fieldwork and beyond.
We expect all participants, staff and affiliates doing fieldwork, to take into account the general ethical guidelines for fieldwork, derived from the AAA’s Statement on Ethics. These are, in a nutshell: do no harm, be open and honest about your work, do not force or trick informants into participating, take responsibility in making ethical decisions, share your results, take care of your records and maintain professional and ethical relationships. As experience thought us that general and abstract guidelines do not suffice to guarantee ethical behavior, we expect everyone to actively engage with ethics in their projects. We strongly encourage discussing the applicability of ethical guidelines to specific research projects – both among staff and peers.

Ethical issues related to the field are however not separated from the broader issues of power produced in the places and institutions that shape the context of any fieldwork. Physical and mental integrity as well as safeguarding boundaries are topics that are core to both being in and outside the field. Fieldwork experiences often trigger group conversations and one-to-one sessions about these topics. It is during such sessions that our own summer school setting becomes a relevant subject for analysis. How are power dynamics established and performed, and how are personal boundaries respected and protected? Such moments are important instances of prevention regarding any type of abuse, both within our organization as well as at home. We expect and support anyone to engage in constructive dialogue, respecting different points of view.


3. Educational Roles and Responsibility.
Summer school staff are selected and trained to be supportive, open and critical mentors for new participants as well as for one another. We encourage staff and students to develop positive and professional working relationships that last beyond the project. This proximity is valuable, but only sustainable on the condition that staff members act with the conscience of being a trusted professional, working in a professional environment. Because of the close cooperation between staff and students, staff members need to be aware of the power dynamics in their interactions with participants. We want to ensure that each staff member handles their role carefully, with respect and fairness for participants and the organization.

Our way of working demands from staff that they explore and analyze underlying attitudes and assumptions that inform their choices and actions. Awareness of the powerful position that being a mentor entails, as well as the meanings of being ‘professional’ and ‘collegial’, are crucial aspects in this process. The collective endeavor to make discussable the challenges and expectations that staff positions entail, is a major asset in preventing transgressive behavior.

Encouraging dialogue about these issues does not imply we are tolerant towards behavior that puts our pedagogical environment at risk. Student-staff sexual relationships are therefore not tolerated. Staff members crossing this line will be removed from the project instantly. Situations that evoke the development or impression of such relations are to be avoided. Personal meetings between a singular staff member and student are to take place outside their respective apartments. Social meetings in the evening take place on our roof terrace with all the staff and students present. If one-on-one meetings are required, we expect our staff to organize them either on our roof terrace, the public apartment or at any other public place (e.g. café, restaurant, coffee shop).


4. Health, Safety and Security
Participants in the summer school are allowed much freedom regarding their choices and activities. As they develop their own research projects, they are challenged to organize their research and leisure time and are encouraged to go out and explore contacts and fieldwork sites. However, they are not alone with their challenge. Participants are hosted at our basecamp, in which researchers with experience in fieldwork on site surround and advise them. Each research idea is discussed in-depth at the beginning of the school in an individual session with two mentors. Concerns about safety and security as well as ethics are important factors that help shaping projects. Both our 2:1 student-staff ratio and the organization of our base-camp ensure that our teams are truly available to give advice and keep an eye on the wellbeing of participants. All staff can moreover be reached on their mobile phones. The project has a car available for transport in case of emergencies or doctor appointments.

A pre-arrival briefing to students advises them on travel and health insurance, and informs them once more about our zero tolerance on illegal drugs. A personal briefing upon arrival day once more discusses expected behavior and provides tips and tricks on how to stay healthy and safe. We want our students to know that they can approach us with any doubts, concerns, questions or troubles they encounter, and that we will handle matters with the necessary discretion and respect.

While safety issues revolving around crime are hardly an issue on the island, we do want everybody to make healthy and sound decisions and to keep an eye out for their peers. Fieldwork often encourages participants to get out of their comfort zone, but personal wellbeing is emphasized as a priority always. Our team will intervene to prevent or stop any behavior that raises health, safety or security concerns or that inhibits meaningful contribution to the learning environment. In first instance, any participant will be approached about their behavior personally. If a participant behaves in such a matter that is worrying to us and efforts of intervention are not effective, we will contact their parents, guardian, or emergency contact.

Disclaimer

If after reading this, you are left with any questions, doubts or comments, please do not hesitate to contact any member of our board.

Mirjam Bussels - General Manager - mirjam.bussels@xpeditions.be
Sam Janssen - Program Director - sam.janssen@xpeditions.be
Marjan Moris - Research Supervisor - marjan.moris@xpeditions.be