Teach For Us | Field Projects International
 

Teaching Opps

Pitch to us: We are a non-profit research and education organization seeking qualified instructors to teach field courses. If you are an expert in botany, primatology, herpetology, entomology, chiropterology, or another related discipline, we want to hear from you. Our goal is not just to create quality educational programs related to field biology and tropical ecology, but also to prioritize hands-on training over classroom lectures. To that end, we encourage our instructors to create syllabi that take full advantage of our extraordinary field sites to develop activities that focus on research methods and not theory alone.

Please explore the information below to understand our hiring policies and other offerings.

Application Instructions:

  1. Read this page thoroughly
  2. Identify what you will need to provide us to apply
  3. Create a course syllabus and budget
  4. Create a CV
  5. Submit the application online by the deadline specified above
  6. If you make it past the initial screening, expect an interview within 3 weeks
  7. If your course is selected, expect to provide us with imagery and course details for marketing one week from acceptance.
Course locations

Most of our courses take place at 5 locations: 2 in the Peruvian Amazon, Peruvian cloud forest, the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, and India’s Western Ghats. Click here to learn about the facilities and wildlife at each site. Final site decisions can be made in consultation with our staff if you are unsure about this choice at the time of the application.

Course structure

This will be fully customized to your activities and lesson plans, but due to the compressed timelines of our courses, your days will be quite intensive (~10 hours long). We have 2- and 3-week course formats, and we try to utilize that time fully.

Typically, lectures may be conducted after dark with a provided projector at each field site, with activities conducted during the day. Activities may also be structured around the three meals provided at each site each day. For example, at our site in India (Fringe Ford) meal timings are flexible but at the Los Amigos Station in Peru they will be fixed as follows (breakfast: 6 am – 7 am; lunch: 12 pm – 1 pm; dinner: 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm)

Course size

Minimum course numbers:

  • 2-wk course: 5 students
  • 3-wk course: 6 students

Maximum course numbers:

  • For a single instructor: 7 students
  • For 8 or more students, we typically require a teaching assistant

Course teaching assistants

We are operating under the basic assumption that the course can be taught single-handedly for a group up to 7 students. Once that number is crossed, the cost structure requirements will permit the hiring of a teaching assistant who can also have travel, stay and salary covered by the course fees.

Typically, this is a student or someone with lesser experience than the main instructor. The choice of this individual will be made jointly by FPI and the main instructor. In some cases, we might be aware of students who are familiar with the site and would make good teaching assistants for a particular course. However, we are perfectly willing to work with someone you choose as well, so long as they meet certain basic experience-related criteria.

Potential teaching assistants can be suggested when you propose a course.

Note: We will be providing a fixer for each course who can assist with logistics between the local town and the main site before the course begins, and after should it be necessary.

Support provided

We will assist with course promotion, logistics, planning, and administering student enrollment. This includes providing a course page online, instructor bio-page, application page, and method for fee acceptance. We will also manage signing of waivers, collection of health insurance information, and monitoring of all applicants’ vaccine and travel information.

We will also have a local fixer help with airport pickups, collectivos (local boat transport, if needed), and other local transportation if needed. We ensure this for the start of the course, should the instructor be unfamiliar with the site (this is common), and can provide it at the end of the course should it be necessary as well, particularly in the case of a language barrier.

Course credit options

Credit through Washington University in Saint Louis:

  • In order for us to offer students academic credit through Washington University in Saint Louis, instructors must have a PhD or be a PhD candidate.
  • Course credit cannot be assured and will be subject to the instructor being hired by the relevant department at Washington University to teach the particular course.
  • This option is also currently only available to instructors who have the relevant work permits for working in the United States of America.
  • Students who attend the course will NOT be required to all sign up for credit – all our courses must be offered with non-credit options as well.

Credit through your own University:

  • We are happy to work with you to have your course be approved for credit through your own University.
  • It would be most preferable for this to be conducted via a summer school or intersession school, so that students from other universities could register for credit at your university.
  • However, if course credit can only be offered to students at your university, we can still accommodate such requests.

Courses without credit:

  • For many of the international students attending these courses, United States academic credit has virtually no meaning at all. Thus, we are happy to offer courses for no credit.
  • Having some credit options generally encourages enrollment from US-based students, so we do encourage you to fully explore these options at your university.

Instructor experience and qualifications

We accept instructors with varying levels of academic qualification, provided sufficient complementary field or teaching experience is available. Instructors with advanced degrees will be compensated at a higher level than teaching assistants without the same qualifications. Please note that to teach a course for credit instructors must have a Ph.D. or be a doctoral candidate.

We are particularly interested in your expertise in terms of field research methodologies, and especially in your experience teaching and/or working in the tropics.

Please note that all applicants must agree to share information about their course with their students, as well as through their teaching networks and via their professional websites/social media accounts (if applicable)

Course dates

Course dates are flexible and courses are usually 2 or 3 weeks long. The guidelines below are based on a North American student audience and their timelines for attending courses during breaks at their universities.

  • Winter courses:
    • Courses must begin and end between December 1, 2016 and January 14, 2017.
  • Summer courses:
    • Courses must begin and end between May 15, 2017 and August 15, 2017

Exceptions to these general guidelines:

  • If you are targeting an audience based out of Australia or another region with differing university timeline, then we can consider course dates outside these periods.
  • If you are considering a 2-wk course during spring break, then we can also consider those times of year
  • For both these exceptions, since you are targeting an audience that could be restricted by as yet unknown factors, the onus for recruitment will fall more heavily on the instructors themselves. As such, we will need to be reassured that you have access to certain networks within your targeted demographic.

What you will need to apply

In our online application you will need to submit:

  • A resume/CV containing at a minimum:
    • educational background.
    • teaching experience, specifying TAships vs. instructor positions, semestral vs. short courses.
    • field experience – experience pertaining to being in the environments in which the proposed course could be taught. These can include research experiences.
  • A syllabus including:
    • Course introduction/decription
    • Course objectives
    • Timeline including lecture topics and field exercises
    • Detailed list of field activities and descriptions
    • Assigned readings list (we prefer not to prescribe text books)
    • Description of independent project plan (if applicable)
    • Outline of how student performance will be evaluated (grading criteria and computation)
  • A course budget
    • Please use this template, and then convert to pdf before submission
    • This is a budget only for equipment/texts required for the course
    • We cannot promise meeting all of these costs, but knowing your ideal wishlist will be extremely helpful
    • This will include a list of equipment that you yourself might want to bring with you

Instructor compensation

Instructors are paid as independent contractors, and the amount paid depends upon course enrollment AND the instructor’s experience.

 

Other expenses covered for instructors:

  • Room and board at the field station.
  • Airfare to closest city to field site (generally tickets purchased by FPI not by instructor).
  • Lodging for a night before and after the course at the closest transit point to the field station.
  • Food allowance at transit point.
  • Transportation costs from transit point to field station and back.

Expenses not covered for instructors:

  • Medical insurance, medications, vaccinations or medical costs of any kind. All instructors must have their own medical insurance.
  • Personal gear like binoculars, backpacks, clothing, etc.

This position offers a great way to expand your resume, gain field teaching experience, make new professional connections, explore a new field site and/or country, and includes the potential to become a staff or senior instructor. We are keen to maintain relationships with effective teachers who are interested in leading regular courses in their area of expertise.

 

Ready to get started on your project?

 

FAQs

What if my course is not selected?

  • Don’t despair – if you were not selected due to experience-related requirements, we can add you to our list of eligible TAs (if qualified) that other instructors will select from.
  • All TAs have the opportunity, based on performance, to lead their own courses in the future.

Can I propose multiple courses?
  • YES! We strongly encourage this.
  • You can submit up to 3 courses.
  • They can be in different areas of expertise or modifications of the same general area, but with different topics.

What are the factors considered when selecting a course?

  • We will consider courses based on the proposed start dates first, so winter before summer courses, although you may propose a course for any period at any time.
  • If we get multiple people proposing to teach courses that are too similar, then we will pick the best one after interviewing the candidates. There are possibilities to become a co-instructor, and we will offer you the option if you do not get picked as the primary instructor, should that interest you.
  • We will be unlikely to host two similar courses in overlapping times – we want to make sure that each course at any given time is unique and that there is enough equipment to teach it also.
  • We will be assessing course modules based on feasibility, given our knowledge of the field sites.
  • If we can’t accept a course for the proposed time slot, but we would very much like to offer it in the future, we will propose that to you.

Will my course proposals be shared with others?

  • Absolutely not. All submitted materials are confidential.
  • No courses will be proposed based on your materials. However, it is entirely possible that two primatologists will both propose teaching primate biology at our site, for example. So if you propose a popular course, someone else might get selected to teach something like it

What if I need to cancel a course that I have signed up to teach?

If you do sign up to teach, but then have to cancel the course for a justifiable personal reason (such as a medical problem), then we will try to fill the course with another instructor or be forced to cancel it. If the reason is not justifiable, we reserve the right to get a new instructor and fill the spot using your syllabus, since we have already begun advertising the course and accepting students.

Do you have specific course formats in mind for the ideal course?
  • We are fairly open to new ideas, but we do have some general suggestions for course formats.
  • We advise not more than one lecture of 1 hour or so per day, to be held in the evenings when a projector can be used to display it well. Daytime lectures are tough to see given the bright light conditions at most field sites.
  • We advise 2 different activities to be conducted each day, or one activity that can be broken up into morning and afternoon sessions
  • Try to plan activities at increasing levels of complexity: so, for example, navigation 1, 2, and 3 to be conducted sequentially.
  • We do require three components be a part of every course:
    1. Ethics: how to work in the area without harming the environment or wildlife
    2. Safety: how to work in the area without harming yourself
    3. Conservation: what are the threats facing the taxa you are focusing on?
How much editing of my course format should I expect from FPI?
  1. The safety of the students and the safety of the wildlife and environment at both sites is of paramount importance to us, so most suggestions will be made in that context.
  2. We recognize that most applicants will not have visited the field site in question, which means that we will offer suggestions based on feasibility at a particular site for all modules.
  3. Ultimately, the course will go forward only if both the instructor and FPI are in agreement over the teaching methods and content.
Can I propose to handle wildlife during the course?
  1. We have a strict no-kill policy for all of our courses.
  2. All sampling or collection of ANY kind is also strictly prohibited. This is controlled by the government of Peru and cannot be undertaken without research permits from them.
  3. Should you possess such research permits, you would need explicit permission from us to collect as a part of the course, and this is unlikely to be sanctioned as we expect our instructors to focus on being at the field station for the singular purpose of teaching the specified course.
  4. If you are going to handle and safely release wildlife, that is permissible for certain Orders over others, commensurate with the experience of the instructor and the smallest possible impact on the wildlife at the site. For example, picking up a frog to take a picture is alright, but keeping it in captivity would not be unless specifically approved by FPI for a specific activity that involves the release of the frog quickly and without any negative effects.
  5. We are happy to discuss the details of any proposed handling with you in person. The best way is to be open and honest about your proposed course right at the application.
Might my proposal be automatically disqualified?
  1. Absolutely not. If there is something unacceptable or not feasible in your proposal, we will contact you for clarification and afford you an opportunity to respond after the initial review of your application.
How do I submit a budget for my course?

Please download and use this Excel spreadsheet to itemize the equipment needed and associated costs. Save the file with your name and the name of your course(s), then upload it on our application page.

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