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Connecting science and society for a better tomorrow

Athena Institute

We believe that science should contribute to a healthy, inclusive and sustainable world. We aim to do so by analysing and integrating diverse stakeholder perspectives and enabling joint action.

Through studying and designing science-society interfaces Athena addresses complex societal issues in a sustainable and equitable way, as our transdisciplinary approach includes the knowledge and expertise of a wide variety of factors and actors – both scientific as well as non-scientific – in research and innovation processes. These different perspectives disclose needs and concerns, which enables adequate anticipation and maximises societal impact.

We strive to increase understanding of key factors in innovation processes, enrich science with increased societal legitimacy and improved research utilisation, and improve societal awareness of how innovations may benefit the sustainability, equity and fairness of societies.

How to organise inclusive multi-stakeholder innovation processes?

How to organise inclusive multi-stakeholder innovation processes?

To address this key question, our research focusses on understanding, facilitating, sustaining and upscaling these processes through reflexive monitoring and evaluation. Moreover, we focus on training and empowering stakeholders, professionals and students to facilitate and participate in these processes. This is supported by methodologies we have developed for knowledge integration.

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Research and education

Research domains

The different, but converging starting points of our analyses transpire into 5 research domains:

  • Emerging science and technology
  • (Global) health and well-being
  • Nature, agriculture and environment
  • Competency development
  • History of knowledge

Education programmes

Athena offers challenging and innovative educational programmes at the interface of life sciences and social sciences, and of theory and practice. We coordinate two Master’s programmes, various Master’s differentiations, Bachelor's minors and a major, and several individual courses.

View our education programmes.

More about Athena



Feel free to contact us

Call +31 (0)20 - 598 70 31

Or send an e-mail to

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

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