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Connecting science and society for a better tomorrow

Athena Institute

The Athena Institute addresses complex societal issues, like climate change, health inequality and social injustice. We do this by designing, facilitating and studying multi-stakeholder processes. Together with all actors involved, we investigate how to instigate system transformation.

Through a transdisciplinary approach, theoretically rooted in the broad field of Science, Technology & Society (STS), the Athena Institute includes the knowledge and expertise of a wide variety of actors in the design, conduct and evaluation of research and innovation. Think of citizens, professionals, policymakers, NGOs, and scholars. We particularly focus on including voices that often remain unheard. By learning from each other's perspectives, we jointly generate new ideas and anticipate potential barriers, thereby enabling sustainable change.

Transformation journeys

In this video series, Athena researchers share how they address complex problems based on societal needs. Through personal experiences they explain how they engage multiple actors, and how these actors learn from each other by doing. Together, they contribute to theoretical innovation and societal transformation towards a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable world.

Watch the full video series

Transdisciplinary research


Athena's most important asset is the way we design and apply approaches to shape multi-stakeholder processes, such as:

  • Reflexive Monitoring in Action 
  • STS Making and Doing
  • Citizen Science
  • Public Engagement and Dialogue   

More info will follow soon

Empirical domains

We apply our approaches in four domains, defined by areas in which societal problems are most pressing:

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Multi-stakeholder engagement

Multi-stakeholder engagement

Next to initiating multi-stakeholder processes, Athena empowers and trains all parties involved to ensure successful participation. Then, we reflexively monitor and evaluate our progress and learnings together. In such continuous processes everyone involved gains new insights, including us. Ultimately, we stimulate upscaling of successful innovations and anchor positive change through our methodologies for knowledge integration.

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Watch Athena's Transformation Journeys

More about Athena


Contact us

VU Amsterdam, Faculty of Science
Science building (W&N), 5th floor, wing C
De Boelelaan 1085
1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands