Researchers from the IIASA Advancing Systems Analysis Program, Biodiversity and Natural Resources Program, Energy, Climate and Environment Program, and from the Population and Just Societies Program share their expertise to carry out the IIASA Tools for Raising and UnderStanding Trust in systems science through citizen engagement (TRUST) Strategic Initiative.

The project revolves around three focus points: firstly, strengthening the knowledge base for raising awareness on fostering trust through participation-driven science; secondly, lowering the barrier for scientists to use  participation-driven approaches; and lastly, providing concrete empirical evidence on the role of participation driven science for raising trust in science. TRUST solidifies the IIASA strategic goal to promote the use of participatory processes and soft systems analysis, and enables researchers to work towards earning trust among the wider public. 

In 2023, IIASA researchers kicked off a series of workshops, focusing on building bridges between science and society. Over 70 participants acquired valuable insights into the diverse participatory research approaches  employed at the Institute, spanning from participatory data collection and analysis to modeling and decisionmaking techniques. A standout feature of these workshops is the dedication to exploring how participatory  research approaches can cultivate and strengthen trust, serving as a crucial connection between scientific endeavors and society at large.

By initiating research that encourages self-reflection about methods of involving stakeholders in research, TRUST opens the door to more self-aware scientific processes in systems analysis and beyond, and invites  researchers to think about the need to earn the trust of the wider public.