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Last modified: Tuesday, November 27, 2001

First underwater resource program established

Indiana University has established the first underwater resource management certificate program in the nation. The program emphasizes research, education and interpretation of underwater resources.

Charles Beeker, director of the underwater science program in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER), will administer the 24-credit program that started this fall for both undergraduate and graduate students.

"The emphasis will be on park development, management and sustainable use of significant submerged cultural and biological resources," said Beeker, an avid scuba diver who has pursued underwater research exploration for 25 years.

The program is expected to interest students in such academic fields as archaeology, biology, geology, museum studies, recreation and park administration. All students interested in the certificate program must first complete a scientific diver certification course that focuses on dive physics, physiology, safety, scientific documentation techniques and underwater research.

Beeker said a major component of the new curriculum is completion of at least one underwater science field research project. "Underwater research projects provide students with a wide variety of diving experiences augmented by research and publication opportunities," explained Beeker. Projects in the past have involved working with federal and state agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Sanctuaries Program, Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research, California State Parks, and Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The governments of the Cayman Islands and the Dominican Republic also have assisted.

Courses offered as part of the certificate curriculum through HPER, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) and the College of Arts and Sciences (COAS) will include underwater science documentation, shipwreck parks as underwater museums, research in underwater sciences, natural history, ecosystem management, fresh-water limnology, coral reef ecology, and environment and people.

Beeker said another first for the program will be offering underwater archaeology degrees to undergraduate students in collaboration with the Department of Anthropology through the COAS individualized majors program.

"This is a fine example of collaboration and cooperation at the highest level of the IU academic community," said David Gallahue, HPER associate dean. "Everybody wins -- students, faculty and underwater ecosystems."

Beeker added that the certificate program is not a scuba degree and is not aimed at developing professional dive instructors. "Our goal is to provide students with an opportunity to use their knowledge and skills in meaningful underwater research projects," he said. "We want students to recognize the historical and geological importance of underwater resources, understand the complexities of an underwater archaeological site, and be aware of the legal, social and environmental implications of resource protection. With increasing pressures in the 21st century on the fragile, primarily non-renewable underwater resources, it is hoped more institutions will develop similar programs to assist in protecting remaining underwater resources for this and future generations."

Beeker said IU has been among the national leaders for years in underwater projects and programs for college students. "Every year we have several hundred students from throughout the university expressing interest in our programs for education, research and recreation purposes," he explained.

For more details on the underwater certificate program, contact Beeker at 812-855-5748, or visit the underwater science Web site.