VERITY project to establish stewards of trust to facilitate science-society collaboration

Although studies show that most people trust in science, media coverage, political debates, and social media give the impression that public mistrust of science is widespread. The newly launched, EU-funded VERITY Project uses COVID-19 and climate change as case studies to examine varying levels of public trust in science and seek solutions to the scepticism undermining public policy.

VERITY aims to strengthen public trust in science by mapping the “ecosystem of trust,” identifying different “stewards of trust” and their audiences, and facilitating collaboration between science and society at large. VERITY brings together stewards of trust ranging from research funding organisations and higher education institutions to social media influencers, so they can better interact with each other and the public to build trust in science.

“When in 2020 scientists defied all odds and delivered a vaccine with the potential to curb the spread of COVID-19, this enormous achievement was met with varying degrees of scepticism within broad swaths of society,” said Agata Gurzawska, the VERITY Project Coordinator, noting that the reaction echoed denials of climate scientists’ research findings. “As a result, some governments struggled to convince people to get vaccinated. Many people already openly wondered whether they were witnessing the arrival of a post-science society. The realisation that scientific advances are not enough if they are not accompanied by a sufficient level of trust lie at the basis of the VERITY project.”

The project, which began in September 2022 and is coordinated by Trilateral Research, brings together six research institutions and universities from across Europe, including Ireland, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Austria, and the UK.
VERITY examines trust in science through the lens of COVID-19 and climate change. The project strives to better understand the sources and consequences of mistrust and will develop tools and methods, including a Protocol of Recommendations, to increase societal trust in science, research, and innovation through original research and small-scale participatory activities. The VERITY tools and protocol will have open science and stakeholder participation at their core and consider society’s needs, expectations, and values regarding science, research, and innovation. This work will be supported by ongoing network analyses and interventions on social media to maximise its impact and adoption by different stakeholders.

The Consortium
The VERITY Consortium includes the following organisations: Trilateral Research (TRI), European Network of Research Ethics Committees (EUREC), Science Business (SB), the Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI), the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan Cyprus), and the University of West Attica (UWA).

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