The School for Field Studies Begins
Following the first Earth Day celebration and the creation of environmental studies curricula at some of the nation's top universities, there was a growing acknowledgement of the critical need to manage sustainably the development of the world's remaining natural resources. To some, it was becoming increasingly clear that the ranks of conservationists charged with the future stewardship of our planet must include not only scientists, but also informed and concerned individuals in all professions worldwide. However, there were few organized efforts to address widespread environmental illiteracy among young people and to prepare the next generation of environmental leaders.
A small group of people met in Boston on October 23, 1980 to establish an educational organization to address these needs. In the summer of 1981 The School for Field Studies sent the first 75 students into the field. Over the years programs operated in a total of 20 countries and 15 states and semester-length programs were introduced; by 1995 the School had transitioned entirely to Center-based programs with a strong commitment to local communities.Today SFS is known throughout the United States as the premier environmental study abroad program for undergraduates. Over 80 colleges and universities are affiliated with SFS and more than 15,000 students from the US and abroad have participated in our programs. SFS now has fully-staffed field stations in Australia, Bhutan, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Panama, Peru, and the Turks & Caicos Islands. Our faculty and directors maintain close research relationships with the communities in which we are located. Although world conditions have changed, the core values of SFS remain the same and are reflected in our current Vision and Mission Statements.
Notable Events in SFS History
1980 SFS Founded on October 23
1981 First Summer Expeditions take place in Galapagos, Belize, Kenya, Mexico, Iceland, Cayman Islands, Alaska, Montana, Virginia
1982 First January Expeditions are offered
1983 SFS is accredited by Northeastern University
1985 The SFS Center for Wildlife Management Studies opens in Kenya
The SFS Center for Marine Resource Studies opens in St. John, USVI
1987 The SFS Center for Rainforest Studies opens in Queensland, Australia
SFS launches efforts to build college and university membership in an Affiliation Program
1989 The SFS Center for Marine Mammal Studies opens in Hawaii.
SFS Alumni numbers reach 3,000
SFS shifts from primarily ecology-focused programming to a more comprehensive resource management focus
1990 The SFS Center for Marine Resource Studies relocates to Turks & Caicos Islands
The SFS Center for Marine Mammal Studies moves to La Paz, Mexico where it operates until 1995.
1991 The SFS Center for Sustainable Development Studies opens in Costa Rica
1993 SFS completes the transition to a case-study based curriculum.
1994 Boston University accredits SFS programs
1995 First SFS Safety Director is hired
The SFS Center for Coastal Rainforest & Fisheries Studies opens on Vancouver Island where it operates until 2003
SFS moves to a fully center-based operation
1997 The SFS Center for Coastal Studies opens in Mexico where it operates until 2011.
SFS founding president, Jim Elder, resigns
1999 The SFS Center for Wildlife Management Studies opens Kilimanjaro Bush Camp in a Maasai community in Southern Kenya
2001 The SFS Center for Wildlife Management Studies expands to Nairobi National Park Camp which operates until 2010
Paul Houlihan appointed president of SFS
2002 SFS institutes five-year research planning process at each center
2003 SFS Alumni Numbers exceed 10,000
First Five-Year Research Plans for Centers begin
2005 SFS celebrates 25 years of environmental education and leadership
2007 SFS and Boston University School of Public Health begin a Field Practicum in Public Health and Environment based at Kilimanjaro Bush Camp in Kenya
The SFS Center for Rainforest Studies introduces sequential summer courses: Techniques in Rainforest Research and Tropical Rainforest Studies in Australia and New Zealand
2008 SFS president Paul Houlihan retires after 11 years of service. SFS welcomes Bonnie R. Clendenning as the new SFS president.
SFS expands Wildlife Management Studies program to Tanzania
2009 Second set of Five-Year Research Plans created
2010 SFS establishes a permanent field station for Wildlife Management Studies in Tanzania and expands the Wildlife Management Studies semester program as a two-country swap between Kenya and Tanzania
SFS student selected for one of two 2010 Undergraduate Research Awards from The Forum on Education Abroad, recognizing “Highest Quality Academic Achievements of Undergraduates Studying Abroad"
In the Kingdom of Bhutan, SFS creates a six-week summer program, "Himalayan Forests, Watersheds, and Rural Livelihoods," partnering with the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment
SFS celebrates 30 years of environmental field studies
2011 SFS welcomes Interim President John "Jack" Waggett
The SFS Center for Sustainable Development Studies in Costa Rica becomes a Rainforest Alliance Certified™ sustainable farm
2012 SFS launches new semester program in Panama, "Tropical Island Biodiversity and Conservation Studies"
SFS Headquarters moves from Salem, MA to the neighboring town of Beverly
SFS welcomes fourth President James A. Cramer
2013 SFS launches new programs: "Biodiversity and Development in the Amazon" in Peru and "The Living Mekong" in Cambodia
University of Minnesota becomes SFS' School of Record
2014 Two SFS students selected as joint recipients of one of two 2014 Undergraduate Research Awards from The Forum on Education Abroad, recognizing “Highest Quality Academic Achievements of Undergraduates Studying Abroad”
SFS awarded $100,000 Cummings Foundation Grant to Share Environmental Research with North Shore Communities
SFS suspends operations in Kenya
2015 SFS launches new fall semester program in Bhutan, "Himalayan Environment and Society in Transition"2016 SFS expands to year-round programming in Bhutan, introducing a spring term of "Himalayan Environment and Society in Transition"