Origins and Supporters

Origins and history

In 2010 Fuller Challenge juror David Orr – the esteemed sustainability educator and author – remarked that human civilization has entered the historical equivalent of shooting the dangerous rapids of a treacherous white-water river. With a broken paddle. Blindfolded.

Buckminster Fuller put it in stark relief with this famous question: Are we heading toward Utopia or Oblivion? He challenged his contemporaries to creatively respond to the urgency of this moment by re-framing the crisis as an opportunity pointing to humanity’s “option to make it – to live successfully without compromising the ability for all of life to thrive.

Fuller demonstrated through his research and design practice that the resources needed for all forms of life on the planet to live in relative peace and prosperity exist. Creatively deployed, these resources are more than enough to raise the standard of living for everybody.

He called for a revolution by design –not political or military – but a revolution driven by the problem-solving creativity of design combined with the empirical demands of science.

Fuller’s practice took a comprehensive approach, starting with the whole; anticipating future trends and needs; employing the scientific method; and aligned with nature’s operating principles. He saw that this way of thinking and doing was to be the future of design. He called his practice design science. And in the 1960’s he launched the Design Science Revolution with an open call to the world’s creative communities “to make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.

Thank you to our Generous Supporters!

The Fuller Challenge was designed and implemented by a visionary and committed group of people led by Founding Director Elizabeth Thompson. They included program managers Matt Barron (2007-2009), Jenjoy Roybal (2009-2011), Sharifah Taqi (2012), Sarah Skenazy (2013-2015) and Megan Ahearn (2015-2017). Each year, the program managers oversaw the Fuller Challenge Review Team, led by JP Harpignies, which included Jay Baldwin, Michael Ben- Eli, Bill Browning, Christina Ciardullo, Bonnie DeVarco, Willis Elkins, Melissa Kelly, Greg Watson, and a number of Fuller Challenge Fellows and Directors of The Buckminster Fuller Institute.

The Fuller Challenge was made possible by generous support from: a/d/o, The Arnow Family Fund, Elyse and Joshua Arnow, Joan and Robert Arnow, TheCooper Union, The Center For Architecture, CUNY, Columbia University, Dorothy Dunn & Associates, Duggal, Inc., Halloran Philanthropies, The Highfield Foundation, Interface, Inc., Marfa Dialogues, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, The New York Open Center, The Northwest Area Foundation, The Public Concern Foundation, The Salzburg Global Forum, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, The Pulitzer Foundation, Robert Rubin, The Surdna Foundation, Tom Shannon, The Wythe Hotel, and the members of The Buckminster Fuller Institute.