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Center Director

Tarapoto, Peru · Education

Institutional Mission: 
SFS creates transformative study abroad experiences through field-based learning and research. Our educational programs explore the human and ecological dimensions of the complex environmental problems faced by our local partners, contributing to sustainable solutions in the places where we live and work. The SFS community is part of a growing network of individuals and institutions committed to environmental stewardship. 
Position Title:  

  • Center Director 

Reports To:  

  • SFS President 


  • Tarapoto, Peru 

Start Date:

  • Spring 2024 or early Summer 2024 

Position Summary: 
The SFS Center for Amazon Studies, located in Tarapoto, Peru, seeks an enthusiastic, team-oriented individual to serve as leader of a residential team of faculty and staff that delivers an interdisciplinary, hands-on learning experience to undergraduate students from U.S. institutions of higher learning who are spending a semester abroad. This is a year-round, salaried position. 

This position is responsible for administering all aspects of the SFS program including staff management and team building; oversight of Center operations, finance, and administration; academic program planning, delivery and evaluation; the Center’s Strategic Research Plan and securing grant support; and representation of the Center in local, regional and international arenas. 

Serve as part of a residential team of faculty and staff that delivers an interdisciplinary, hands-on learning experience to students spending a semester abroad.  

A key part of the Center Director role is to actively create and foster successful living-learning communities where diverse students and staff can thrive. Knowledge of and modeling of inclusive professional practices with staff and students is a major component of the role. Knowledge and familiarity with inclusive community living and diverse social, mental, and cultural needs is required. This inclusivity extends to building collaborative relationships with community partners. Integrated and collective research, outreach, and environmental education is a key part of SFS’s commitment to our community. 

This is a twelve-month contract position, with likely continuance depending on successful completion of duties and sufficient student enrollment. Salary is dependent on experience and qualifications. Comprehensive benefits package and room and board included.  

Center Focus:  
The SFS Center for Amazon Studies seeks to understand both the conflicts and synergies of conservation and development. Students will gain a sense of the richness of the Amazon region—biodiversity, social and cultural diversity, and ecosystem services—while exploring strategies for sustainable livelihoods in this highly productive and diverse region of South America.  

The interdisciplinary themes of socio-ecological resilience, environmental justice, and conservation will guide our inquiry. Through coursework, field exercises, and Directed Research, students will study people’s dependence on the environment, examine the threats to the environment and to social networks, and explore the tools and strategies for mitigating the threats and promoting well-being among rural communities. A strong component of the program will be examining the ecological patterns and processes that underpin the high diversity of the region. 

SFS Position on Diversity and Inclusion:  
SFS was founded with the belief that stewardship of our planet is the responsibility of people all around the world. Addressing complex global issues requires the active inclusion of stakeholders with varying perspectives and identities. We recognize that to successfully address threats to our natural world, we must look beyond social constructs designed to divide us. Just as we value biodiversity in all its forms, we value and engage with a multitude of diverse perspectives and people in the countries where we work and the students and staff we serve. 

Duties and Responsibilities: 
SFS Center Director positions are different than many other university or research director positions. Center Directors are integral members of the Center’s communal living model. The faculty and staff team at each Center works closely and collaboratively to deliver a field-based interdisciplinary program, where programming days can be long and active.  In addition to ensuring high quality, inquiry-based teaching, Center Directors also participate fully in student life and lead and set the community culture. Center Directors are also responsible for the implementation of the Center’s Strategic Research Plan.  

It is required that Center Directors live on-site or nearby for the duration of each program period and spend full workdays with the program, intentionally engaging with staff and students in multiple settings (academics, meals, student life activities, etc.). 

Personnel and Student Management 

  • Lead program planning activities prior to semester program, and debrief following student departures, including written reports to Headquarters (HQ) 

  • Lead regular staff, faculty and student meetings in support of program delivery 

  • Monitor student conduct and mediate higher-level disciplinary problems 

  • Supervise professional and academic staff 

  • Support a strong Center culture through regular meetings and open communication 

  • Collaborate with the SFS HQ to recruit and retain qualified faculty and staff, to create opportunities for professional development  

  • Monitor performance of Center staff throughout the year and conduct formal staff evaluations to set and meet performance objectives 

  • Observe and review faculty teaching, coaching as needed and ensuring incorporation of current and innovative best teaching practices 

Fiscal & Facility Management 

  • Ensure sound fiscal management through careful review of the budget and expenditures, working closely with SFS HQ Operations team to develop and manage operating and capital budgets  

  • Work with Site Manager to carry out facility and vehicle maintenance and replacement and manage the import process of goods and consumables 

  • Assume overall safety of all program participants, staff and visitors, working closely with the Health and Wellness Manager including the enforcement of program vehicle and boat policies, diving protocols, and program risk assessment and management plans 

  • Ensure the Center operates in a manner which is consistent with local, regional, and national laws, regulations and codes (permits, work visits, insurance, occupancy laws, etc.) 

  • In coordination with the Site Manager, serve as caretaker for the Center site during non-program and intersession periods 

Academic Program Management 

  • In coordination with the Office of Academic Affairs, review the undergraduate academic curriculum and work with the faculty to update and improve pedagogy and content of classes and field work 

  • Review program evaluations and implement actions to maintain high academic quality standards 

  • Promote the participation of local and international experts and partners in both the teaching and research programs 

  • Advise students where appropriate to assist in the success of their academic program 

  • Adhere to and enforce SFS academic policies for students and faculty 

Research Program Management 

  • Work with the SFS Office of Academic Affairs, the Center team, and community partners to ensure ongoing implementation and development of the Center’s Strategic Research Plan, including appropriate involvement of students, publication of results, data management and record keeping, retention of partners and achievement of research goals 

  • Work with the HQ staff to identify funding sources in support of the Center and assist in grant writing 

  • Build connections with the local and regional global academic community as it related to the Center’s research focus, including hosting potential visiting researchers, guest lecturers, and keeping up to date on latest research trends and conversations. 

  • Support faculty’s independent research pursuits, through support of research, pd, etc. 

  • In certain circumstances, Center Directors lead a Directed Research project. 


  • Serve as primary spokesperson for the Center 

  • Work with HQ staff to create and publish center specific marketing materials and campaigns 

  • Actively seek out and participate in outreach activities at the local, regional and national levels to entities such as universities, research organizations, businesses, agencies and community institutions 

  • Represent SFS at relevant local and international conferences, seminars, and workshops 

  • At all times, work to ensure continued supportive relationships and strong communication between the Center and its community and neighbors 

  • Take part in, and occasionally lead community outreach, site upkeep projects, social and field activities 

Daily Center Life 

  • Work flexible hours and live on site or nearby the field station with a small team of permanent staff, groups of US undergraduate students  

  • On a rotating basis, act as on-call "staff of the day"  

  • Participation in all program activities 

  • Drive standard transmission vehicles and boats as needed  

  • Adhere to, actively model and enforce all SFS and program policies and procedures 

  • Obtain Wilderness First Responder certification prior to first day of work (SFS support and reimbursable available) 

Minimum qualifications: 

  • Ph.D. and university-level teaching experience in areas related to conservation and the environment.  

  • Field research and/or project implementation experience 

  • Demonstrated ability to work as part of an interdisciplinary, international field team  

  • Track record of research publications  

  • Demonstrated commitment to environmental issues and student learning 

  • Fluency in English and Spanish 

Preferred Qualifications: 

  • Experience working in Peru or region 

  • Experience leading field courses 

  • Experience working with US undergraduate students 

  • Experience with residential student group management and risk management experience 

To Apply: Submit a cover letter and resume outlining relevant experience via the online application on the SFS Careers page at https://fieldstudies.catsone.com/careers/ 

Applicants have rights under Federal Employment Laws: Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)  

Equal Opportunity Employer: SFS is committed to providing equal employment opportunities for all persons regardless of race, color, religion, creed, caste, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetics, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, national origin or ancestry, ethnic origin, or veteran status. 

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