Indiana University Bloomington

Center for Underwater Science

Brief description of the Certificate Program

The curriculum in Underwater Resources Management (URM) emphasizes research, education, and interpretation of underwater resources with emphasis on park development, management, and sustainable use of significant submerged cultural and biological resources. The URM certificate program requires a minimum of 24 credit hours with the scuba skill development courses offered by the Academic Diving Program in the Department of Kinesiology, and underwater park development courses offered in the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies.

All URM diving candidates must take a core R322 Scientific Diver Certification (Sci-Diver) course that focuses on dive physics, physiology, safety, scientific documentation techniques and current research relating to archaeological and biological underwater resources. Sci-Diver provides the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary for safe and efficient diving during university sanctioned scientific investigations. Within the Sci-Diver course the university provides additional sessions to enable students to obtain the recreational dive industry minimal Openwater Diver Certification (a recommended course prerequisite). Since not all Sci-Diver students elect, or are selected, to participate in university sanctioned field research projects it is the goal of the course to ensure that students who will use scuba as a life long recreational hobby will have the basic knowledge of techniques used for underwater investigations. However, it should be noted that only students who complete the semester long Sci-Diver course are allowed to participate in university sanctioned underwater research projects.

Following completion of Sci-Diver, a second required component of the URM certificate is student participation in a minimum one of the Underwater Science field research project (although students often participate in more than one). Current and past Underwater Science field projects have been partially supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Sanctuaries Program, Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research, California State Parks, National Park Service, Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the governments of the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos and Dominican Republic. Underwater field research projects provide students with a wide variety of diving experiences augmented by research and publication opportunities that by their nature require interdisciplinary activities. When possible, Underwater Science encourages faculty from various departments to participate in the field, or at a minimum, supervise student reports or research papers based on student field research participation.

Beyond the core Sci-Diver course and underwater field research, the remaining credits for URM certificate are fulfilled according to individual student interest and specific degree pursuit. There is no "scuba degree" nor does IU encourage students to become Professional Dive Instructors. The recreational dive industry has excellent programs in this area and this is not IU’s mission. However, it is our goal to provide students with an opportunity to use their knowledge and skills in meaningful underwater research projects.

As URM certificate program activity and student involvement increase, collaboration between University departments and schools also increase. Along with the successful program development of the URM certificate the IU College of Arts and Sciences (COAS) has authorized the Individualized Majors Program (IMP) to offer Underwater Archaeology Degrees to undergraduate students, in collaboration with the Department of Anthropology, which is the first such undergraduate program of its type in the country.

IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs offers undergraduate and graduate courses in Coral Reef Ecology, as well as Fresh Water Limnology, in collaboration with underwater science field research projects. IU Department of Biology offers Tropical Biology Research in Cayman Islands in collaboration with Overseas Study and Underwater Science.

Classroom knowledge, hands-on practical skills, and field research experience are equally important if students are to master the challenges associated with underwater resource management. The performance based standards of the URM program are:

  • Obtain scientific diver certification, as outlined in the IU Academic Diving Manual
  • Demonstrate diver safety and rescue skills necessary for scientific investigations
  • Contribute to field research report for state or federal agencies
  • Recognize the historical and geological importance of underwater resources
  • Understand the complexities of an underwater archaeological site
  • Be aware of the legal, social and environments implications of resource protection

Indiana University’s Underwater Resource Management Certificate gives students a unique interdisciplinary education that will better prepare them for the challenges associated with sustainable management of submerged cultural and biological resources.