Statement from the Buckminster Fuller Institute
In a statement about the Challenge, The Buckminster Fuller Institute explains the background of the prize program:
Short term reductionist thinking which dominates all industrialized societies is a fundamental cause of the massive social, economic and environmental deterioration our world is confronted with today. It is now painfully obvious to many that most attempts by civil, corporate, scientific, academic and government sectors to deal with these breakdowns, despite good intentions and significant investment, often exhibit little more than a reflexive default to the same reductionist approach that created the problems in the first place. Little if any attention is ever directed toward optimizing whole systems. Instead the focus remains riveted only on improving various parts in isolation. Not surprisingly, when it comes to solving complex problems, actions are typically fragmented, disjointed and piecemeal. The net result: on a global scale the level of deterioration is rapidly increasing and imbalances have already reached crisis proportions.
During the past half century pioneers like Buckminster Fuller and other visionaries responded to the failure of reductionism by developing new approaches to meeting human needs, concurrent with preserving the vital diversity of cultures and ecosystems that form the fabric of life on Earth. Their holistic approach has influenced thousands of individuals in numerous fields who continue to break new ground in how to think, plan and design.
This evolving and growing body of work contains the seeds, models and strategies for the fundamental shift in direction so urgently needed today. The work spans a range of development stages— from the conceptual phase, to prototype ready, to well proven models poised to scale up. However, most of these new approaches, even the most advanced, remain under funded, under recognized and have yet to significantly penetrate mainstream education, economic activity, media, philanthropy and public policy.
"We're looking for solutions that address multiple problems without creating new ones down the road— integrated strategies dealing with key social, economic, environmental, policy and cultural issues. Our entry criteria is deeply inspired by what Fuller termed comprehensive anticipatory design science— an approach we feel holds an important key to the design of strategies aimed at having a transformative effect on the system as a whole. We are very grateful for the recognition the prize recipients have received to date and hope this will lead to the greater understanding and wide-spread application of the whole systems, design science approach we are championing." said Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Director of the Buckminster Fuller Institute.
After decades of tracking world resources, innovations in science and technology, and human needs, Fuller asserted that options exist to successfully surmount the crises of unprecedented scope and complexity facing all humanity— he issued an urgent call for a design science revolution to make the world work for all. Answering this call is what the Buckminster Fuller Challenge is all about.