Introduction

 

 The Center for Interdisciplinary Marine and Maritime Reseach (CIMMAR) is an organizational unit within the University of Zadar that is fully independent and separate from the academic department hierarchy.  Its long-term purpose and strategy is to embody the following six foundational principles:

 
1.
The Adriatic Sea has a central and defining presence within Croatian and regional culture, society, and economy in the past, present, and future;    
4.
 Maintaining the health and functioning of the Sea requires an active program of scientific research, using modern scientific tools, knowledge, and infrastructure;
 2.  The Adriatic Sea provides ecosystem services that have incalculable value to and continuous presence within Croatian and regional culture, society, and economy;   
 5.  The requisite research must be interdisciplinary, and involve a synergistic interaction among all natural sciences, social sciences, humanistic sciences;
 3.  The health of the Adriatic Sea and its sustainability should remain a top priority in all planning decisions for the future of the region;   
 6.  The requisite research must also be transparent and available to planners and stakeholders, so that it can be immediately put to positive use for the benefit of the Adriatic Sea.

 


 

In order to carry out these six principles, CIMMAR's long-term strategy is to serve the following four functions:


Research. CIMMAR will be the major equipped instrument within the University of Zadar for conducting all field research related to Croatia's coastline and sea: its geology, geography, archaeology, history, sociology, aquaculture, biology.  

Advisory. CIMMAR will serve in an advisory capacity for agencies authorized for environmental protection of the sea and marine and maritime resources, for the establishment of marine and maritime Natura2000 sites and other marine protected areas, and for integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) within Croatia. Members of CIMMAR will be authorized for performing environmental impact assessments in support of Croatia's ICZM laws.

Support.  CIMMAR will support local businesses in developing tools and knowledge that improve the long-term sustainability of their operations within the marine and maritime environment.

Publicity.  Scientific results will be published in peer-reviewed academic journals, acknowledging CIMMAR, the University of Zadar and its dedication to the support of vigorous scientific research, so that the positive work and philosophy of the University of Zadar and of CIMMAR will be known to scientists, stakeholders, and planners locally and worldwide.

It is the intent of the University of Zadar that, through these principles and functions, CIMMAR will be an important source of value creation, and that these capabilities will be vigorously and continuously le¬ve¬ra¬ged to the benefit of the University, of the county, of Croatia, and of the Mediterranean.

 

Interdisciplinarity

The core founding assumption of CIMMAR is that protection of marine resources of all kinds in the Mediterranean Sea requires an interdisciplinary research strategy that combines methods, expertise, and epistemological collaboration, synergism, and synthesis from many academic fields of research (Bjurstrom &  Polk 2011; Burch 2011; Carlin 2011; Carroll, Kinnison &  Bernatchez 2011; Collins et al. 2011) .  Interdisciplinary collaboration is required for three basic reasons.  These are:


 1.

Epistemological.   Because all environmental challenges are multidimensional, with impacts spreading across all components of the environment and all functions of human society, their understanding, mitigation, and adaptive responses require vigorous and full engagement by all academic disciplines, making equal and interactive use of all ways of describing, interpreting, predicting, and evaluating environmental values, meaning, experience, and change (Vallega 1999). 


 2.

 Operational.  Any environmental challenge is a challenge because its solution is operationally difficult, perhaps borders on the impossible; therefore, collaboration and sharing of knowledge, labor, tools, equipment, and infrastructure will be necessary to overcome substantial operational obstacles. This is especially true for underwater research, which has always been more labor and cost intensive than terrestrial research, and prohibitively so for most small institutions in developing countries, with the result that progress in underwater research has historically been interdisciplinary and has proceeded in parallel with research and innovation in all kinds of underwater, submersible, robotic, visualization and mapping engineering and technology (Ballard et al. 2000).


 3.  Embeddedness.  Environmental problems are “thoroughly embedded in national and international political networks” (Eden 1998) , which necessitates close collaboration between academics and lay persons in the support, funding, implementation, dissemination, and debate over the policy implications of scientific research and results.  This requires an understanding and engagement of non-scientific ways of knowing about the environment, including “local expertises” and “local knowledge” that the public uses to process, interpret, filter, and challenge technical scientific understanding of the current and past state of the environment.