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U.S. Antarctic Program develops Sexual Assault/Harassment Prevention and Response (SAHPR) Program

April 16, 2021

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of Polar Programs (OPP) has entered into an agreement with the Department of the Interior’s Federal Consulting Group (FCG) and their contracted team of experts to assist the NSF in the creation of a U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) Sexual Assault/Harassment Prevention and Response (SAHPR) program.  The USAP SAHPR program will apply to all persons and entities deployed as part of the USAP, regardless of affiliation.  Over the coming year, the NSF and FCG will perform a needs assessment of the USAP community, create a customized series of trainings (including bystander intervention training) for all USAP participants, and provide the NSF with a detailed SAHPR program implementation plan.  

This work is a continuation of previous NSF policies to combat harassment. In 2018, NSF established new policies and requirements in an effort to help ensure research environments are free from sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other forms of harassmentAs a result, scientific grant awardee organizations must report to NSF when: 

  • Principal Investigators (PI) or Co-PIs working on NSF-funded research are placed on administrative leave 

  • PIs or Co-PIs are subjected to administrative actions as a result of investigations of sexual or other forms of harassment 

  • There are findings or determinations by the organizations that PIs or Co-PIs engaged in sexual assault, sexual harassment, or other forms of harassment  

In addition, NSF established a secure online portal for awardee institutions to submit harassment notifications and a separate portal for individuals to file harassment complaints. These policies and requirements were subsequently adopted by OPP. To learn more about NSF’s effort to combat harassment, visit the Stop Harassment page on the NSF website.  

NSF’s Office of Polar Programs has taken additional steps in the form of the Polar Code of Conduct and the USAP Executive Management Board’s Affirmation of Non-Harassment Policy, both of which are publicly available online.  In addition, OPP increased communication on harassment issues and reporting mechanisms through briefings, training, and postings at stations and on vessels.  

This agreement with the FCG is the latest in OPP’s efforts to combat harassment and provide a safe community for all USAP participants. 

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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