The Catholic University of America

Pointers for Faculty on Legal Liability in Global Education Programs


The following tips are offered using the acronym "PLACE."

"P" Catholic University of America Policy

The following policies are necessary reading for Faculty, and if you have not yet read them, please reviwe before going abroad.  You have been delegated the authority to make decisions. Compliance with university policy as you take action protects everyone's interests.

Global Education

Sexual Harassment

Code of Student Conduct

Student Records

Travel Policy


Negligence is the doing of something which a reasonably prudent person would not do, or the failure to do something which a reasonably prudent person would do, under circumstances similar to those shown by the evidence. It is the failure to use ordinary or reasonable care. (BAJI Book of Approved Jury Instructions) 3.10

Those typically named in lawsuits involving a global education program are the university, the program, and often the actual individuals involved.

Key questions are: What do you know? What should you have known? How much control do you have? Evidence used at trial would be testimony of staff on what information was disseminated to students, and whether it was reasonable under the circumstances. Were the students required to get necessary immunizations, and were high risk activities discussed and discouraged or the proper precautions put in place? Were the best practice standards followed? What was the state of knowledge regarding crimes or disease in the area being visited?

Areas of highest risk for litigation [based on an analysis by the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)] are the following:

  • · Significant leader error or inattention
  • · Inadequate or inappropriate medical care
  • · Sexual harassment or sexual assault
  • · Inadequate supervision
  • · Road accidents

If you can spot issues ahead of time, and practice preventive law, students and faculty will all be better off. The Center for Global Education is a great resource here.


As Program Directors, within the scope of your duties you have the authority (in conjunction with CUAbroad) to separate a disruptive student from the Program, to enter into contracts on an "as needed" basis, to implement emergency or evacuation plans, to delay and/or alter a planned event, etc. Consult with the Dean of Students on student conduct issues. Deans and Department Chairs should carefully consider what faculty members they send abroad. Does this person have the skill set to deal with a crisis? Skills include knowledge of CUA policies, awareness of student development issues, as well as empathy and discretion.

"C" Crisis

Crisis: CUA has an overseas Crisis Management Protocol that should be read and followed. Emergency occurrences are reported to the Department of Public Safety at 202-319-5111, which is open 24/7. Upon receiving a call, DPS will record the basic information, contact CUA need to know officials, and contract CGE.

"E" Education

 Enjoy the opportunity for education that exists abroad. This is the main goal of the trip.


updated 12-7-15


NB: The concept for this outline was used with the permission of Charles Assini, Higgins, Roberts, Beyerl & Coan, P.C., and counsel to Union College.