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Lecturer in Tropical Ecology

The School for Field Studies
Tarapoto, Peru
Salary is dependent on experience and qualifications. Comprehensive benefits package

Job Details

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:  

Lecturer in Tropical Ecology 

Reports To:  

  • Center Director, Center for Amazon Studies 

  • Dean, Office of Academic Affairs 

Location: Tarapoto, Peru 

Start Date: July 2024


This is a ten-month contract position with likely renewal depending on successful completion of duties and expectations. Salary is dependent on experience and qualifications. Comprehensive benefits package and on-site room and board included.   

Position Summary:  

The SFS Center for Amazon Studies, located in Tarapoto, Peru seeks an enthusiastic, team-oriented individual to serve as part of a team of faculty and staff that delivers an interdisciplinary, hands-on learning experience to students spending a semester in Peru. On a contract basis, the Lecturer in Tropical Ecology will deliver the 50-hour Tropical Ecology of the Amazon course during the fall and spring semesters. Additionally, during fall and spring, they will co-teach the 50-hour Directed Research course with other faculty members, leading a faculty-developed directed research project with a small group of students. 

This position will engage students in a classroom setting, but also through extensive time spent in the field. We encourage faculty to integrate as much fieldwork and hands-on experience into their courses as possible. Faculty are also integral members of the Center’s communal living model, eating and working with the student cohort. SFS programs do not follow a nine to five model.  

Additional responsibilities outside of teaching may include participation in community engagement days, involvement in student life, organization of laboratory space, and general Center upkeep. We are especially interested in candidates with experience teaching to a diverse student body, and demonstrated commitment to diversity, inclusion, and cultural competence in a learning environment, conservation, and the community of Tarapoto. 

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 Lecturer positions are different than many other university teaching positions. Lecturers are integral members of the Center’s communal living model. The faculty team works closely and collaboratively to deliver a field-based interdisciplinary program, where programming days can be long and active. The program does not follow a nine to five model. In addition to providing high quality, inquiry-based teaching, faculty also participate fully in student life and in the implementation of the Center’s research plan. The publication of both student-assisted and independent research results is encouraged and supported.   


  • As part of an interdisciplinary teaching team, teach and co-teach the Tropical Ecology of the Amazon and Directed Research courses, respectively. Course descriptions are found below. 

  • Plan, revise, and effectively deliver a challenging, problem-based interdisciplinary curriculum to learners from diverse disciplinary and cultural backgrounds 

  • Organize lectures, prepare course materials, and adhere to a daily academic schedule in a timely and professional manner 

  • Actively support and counsel students on academic issues 

  • Prepare, administer, and grade assignments, quizzes, and assessments 

  • Supervise and mentor a student research group during the Directed Research course 

  • Maintain an organized course portfolio 

  • Participate in preparation of final reports, academic handbook revisions, and other required administrative tasks 

  • Maintain equipment as required for teaching in the field 


  • Participate in the development and upkeep of the Center’s Strategic Research Plan (SRP) and conduct designated and aligned independent research 

  • Identify appropriate components of the SRP suitable for student DR projects that prioritize community needs and build on local knowledge networks 

  • Prepare research results for community stakeholders and broader scientific and non-scientific audiences using accessible communication methods 

  • Assist, as required, with reviewing program research policies, priorities, and budgets 

  • Follow data management, record keeping, and reporting systems 

  • Represent SFS and/or present research at local, regional, or international meetings and conferences 

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. The program does not follow a nine to five model.  

  • Contribute to the creation of a living-learning community that is inclusive of diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds, in which all learners have the opportunity to thrive 

  • Actively model skills in competence, awareness, and knowledge necessary for meaningfully working with, interacting with, and learning from others who may differ from oneself in identity and/or lived experience 

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

  • Participate in the planning of activities and semester calendar prior to the start of the program and in training for new program staff 

  • Participate in and lead parts of the orientation and re-entry components of the program presented to students at the beginning and end of each program 

  • Participate in regular evaluations and reflection discussions following students' departure 

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

  • In cooperation with other program staff, provide day-to-day coordination of interns and/or field assistants as delegated by the Center Director 

  • As requested by the Center Director, assist with other logistical, group management, and administrative tasks 

  • At all times, work to ensure good relations between the SFS and the local community 

  • Drive standard transmission vehicles and boats as needed (driving license may be required) 

Safety and Wellbeing 

  • Take responsibility, as an individual and as a member of the Center team, for the safety of all program participants 

  • Complete Risk Management Plans in a timely fashion for each field outing 

  • Participate in resolving group management issues and student discipline problems 

  • Adhere to, actively model, and enforce all SFS and program policies and procedures, including the values of the SFS Position on Diversity and Inclusion 

  • Participate in the review and revision of program risk assessment and management plans 

  • Know the emergency procedures plan for the field station, including evacuation plan 

  • Participate in the safety portions of the on-site orientation and conduct safety briefings for students and/or staff 

  • Complete incident reports when appropriate and contribute to safety audits. 

  • Obtain Wilderness First Aid certification prior to first day of work (SFS support and reimbursable available) and ensure first-aid certifications are kept up to date 

Minimum qualifications 

  • Ph.D. and university-level teaching experience in areas related to tropical ecology, resource management, forestry/agroforestry management, terrestrial ecology, rainforest ecology or related field 

  • Field research experience and/or project implementation in tropical areas 

  • Demonstrated commitment to creating inclusive learning environments 

  • Demonstrated ability to work as part of an interdisciplinary teaching and research team 

  • Track record of research publications 

  • Experience leading forest walks and hikes 

  • Experience teaching classes in the field 

  • Demonstrated commitment to environmental issues 

  • Fluent in English (all courses taught in English) 

Preferred Qualifications 

  • Experience working in Peru 

  • Experience teaching field courses 

  • Experience with residential student group management and/or risk management 

  • Experience cross-teaching or collaborating on projects in environmental policy, governance, climate change, sustainable tourism and development, or land usage 

  • Track record of grant writing success 

  • Current First Aid, CPR, and/or Wilderness First Aid certification 

  • Fluent in Spanish 

Course Descriptions 

Tropical Ecology of the Amazon: This course examines biodiversity from multiple scales, including region, landscape, ecosystem, community, species, and genes. Students learn to: identify and characterize a variety of the diverse flora and fauna in the Amazon region, understand the patterns and processes that support this diversity, and appreciate the importance of biodiversity to people. Students examine the fundamental principles of tropical ecology through the study of a diverse mosaic of ecosystems, habitats, and species along elevational gradients, successional gradients, and geomorphic patterns. 

Directed Research: This course provides students with the opportunity to apply ecological, biological, and/or social-scientific methods to a field research project that addresses a local issue related to the environment. We will also investigate the ways that various methods and theories distinguish (or don’t) fact from interpretation, cause from correlation, and advocacy from objectivity. The directed research topics are derived from the SFS Center’s Research Plan as defined by the Center staff and local stakeholders. Through the Directed Research project, students will contribute to a growing body of scientific research that informs local conservation and resource management decisions. SFS program lecturers lead a small group of students in this research component of the program. 

Applicants are encouraged to review the full course syllabi and programs descriptions on the SFS website: 



SFS envisions a world where each of us is a responsible steward of the environment and where society is grounded in the understanding that all life, including humankind, is deeply intertwined. We envision a world where all people have access to clean air, clean water, nutritious food, and the other essential services of a healthy ecosystem – now and for all future generations to come.

Young people are the future. We believe that in order to achieve our vision and solve our world’s biggest challenges, we must train and educate the next generation of leaders to think critically, act compassionately, and work collaboratively – our diversity is our strength. Climate change and other social and environmental threats are daunting, but we will be ready.

Company info
PO Box 506
West Boxford
United States

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