Aims of the transdisciplinary work package

TRUST

Aims of the transdisciplinary work package

The TRUST work package is about trust. Trust is essential for people to live together. Also for procedures such as the search and selection of a suitable site for a repository for high-level radioactive waste, trust between the actors involved is absolutely necessary; this also includes the public. In particular, the TRUST work package deals with the trust that laypersons have in the procedure, in authorities and in science. How can trust be gained, how does it develop over time and what are the factors that create trust?

The approach with which TRUST works is transdisciplinary. What does that mean? Transdisciplinary means that there is not only an exchange between different branches of science, such as psychology, geology, radiation protection, etc., but that we look beyond the academic-scientific horizon and actively involve interested citizens as well as other non-academic actors in the research process. This will be done through the Citizens Workgroup (German: Arbeitsgruppe Bevölkerung = AGBe), which will be an integral part of TRUST. This group consists of men and women with different employment biographies from different regions of Germany (for the selection process see WORK PROGRAM OF TAP TRUST). They accompany us in the research process, contribute their specific understanding and knowledge of the topic, give critical input and question our approaches and procedures. At the same time, they get to know scientific research better through this insight and can thus better understand the work of the researchers. In this way, we can learn from each other and be empowered to take different perspectives.

A new process is currently underway to find a final repository for high-level radioactive waste in Germany. One of the points that is discussed again and again is, for example, the question of retrievability: Thus, the retrieval of stored waste is foreseen in case of an unfavourable development of the repository during the storage phase. However, monitoring strategies (e.g. near-field monitoring), decision paths and responsibilities must already be clarified now so that retrieval can also be carried out practicably and safely. This raises questions that need to be addressed with the participation of public representatives:

  • What does retrieval of the waste mean for the safety of the general population?
  • How trustworthy are measurement data and supervising actors considered to be?
  • How do uncertainties and insecurities related to technology and time interact with trust in nuclear waste management?And how are these uncertainties perceived, how does this perception affect trust?

In TAP TRUST, we thus combine engineering, natural science and social science disciplines and researchers with actors from the public and create a transdisciplinary platform with other stakeholders in the field of nuclear waste management. These groups can exchange ideas on this platform and discuss and explore solutions to specific problems.

One example of TRUST's work at the interface between science and society is environmental monitoring. Together, researchers and citizens will develop a programme on how citizens affected by a repository can themselves be involved in environmental monitoring measures in the future. We want to better understand how the different actors interact and deal with each other. In this way, we can show ways under which conditions trust can grow and be maintained. This means that we also reflect on the joint work of researchers and citizens. This will be done in a separate work package, Transdisciplinarity Research.