Call for Proposals: The 2016 Fuller Challenge

January 15, 2016


2016 Fuller Challenge to Award Student Entries for First Time

The Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) has issued the Call for Proposals for the 2016 Fuller Challenge. Known as “socially-responsible design’s highest award,” the Fuller Challenge invites designers, architects, planners, entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, activists, and students worldwide to submit original solutions to some of humanity’s most pressing problems.

A $100,000 prize is awarded to support the development and implementation of the winning project. In addition to the grand prize, BFI will provide further resources for finalists, semi-finalists and select entrants through its Catalyst Program.

“Bucky made an urgent call for a ‘Design Science Revolution’ 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,” says BFI Executive Director Elizabeth Thompson. “Answering this call is what the Fuller Challenge is all about.”

In 2016, BFI will, for the first time, recognize outstanding student entries to the Challenge through a separate review, selection, and award process.

“In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in student entries to the Challenge,” says Fuller Challenge Program Manager Megan Ahearn. “We’re now devoting time and resources to a separate review track for student entries, and we look forward to publicly recognizing work from university-level entrants.”

The deadline for general submissions is March 1st, 2016 at 5 PM ET. Entries will be evaluated by BFI’s Review Committee, consulted by a panel of internationally renowned advisors, which has included Janine Benyus (Co-founder, Biomimicry Institute), Amy Chester (Managing Director, Rebuild By Design), William McDonough (architect, McDonough + Partners), David Orr (author, The Nature of Design), Alice Rawsthorn (journalist, International New York Times) and others.

Previous Challenge winners include the Living Building Challenge (built environment), Ecovative (materials innovation), Living Breakwaters (coastal adaptation), and most recently, GreenWave, a non-profit organization that has designed multi-species 3D ocean farms, aiming to create jobs in coastal communities by transforming fishers into restorative ocean farmers.

Winning the Fuller Challenge requires more than a stand-alone idea or innovation. BFI seeks whole-system solutions that demonstrate a clear grasp of the ‘big-picture’ and focus on a well-defined need of critical importance. If, for example, a proposal emphasizes a new design, material, process, service, tool, or technology, it is essential that it be part of an integrated strategy that simultaneously addresses key social, environmental, and economic factors.

R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) led a life of prolific research, invention, writing, and teaching. He developed a comprehensive systems approach to understanding complex global problems and a unique set of “design science” principles. He emphasized that the technology and know-how already exist to successfully surmount our global challenges, and he advocated for “doing more with less”. Winners of the Fuller Challenge embody this approach to problem solving.