From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]

1ST PRIZE US$100,000

“If success or failure of the planet and of human beings depended on
how I am and what I do … How would I be? What would I do?”
– Buckminster Fuller

Buckminster Fuller’s prolific life of exploration, discovery,
invention and teaching was driven by his intention “to make the world
work for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through
spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or disadvantage of

Fuller coupled this intention with a pioneering approach aimed at
solving complex problems. This approach, which he called comprehensive
anticipatory design science, combined an emphasis on individual
initiative and integrity with whole systems thinking, scientific rigor
and faithful reliance on nature’s underlying principles.

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 humanity – he issued an urgent call for a design science
revolution to make the world work for all.

Entry Criteria

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge seeks submissions of design science
solutions within a broad range of human endeavor that exemplify the
trimtab principle. Trimtabs demonstrate how small amounts of energy
and resources precisely applied at the right time and place can
produce maximum advantageous change.

Solutions should be:

* Comprehensive – a clear demonstration of holistic systems
* Anticipatory – projectively tracking critical trends and needs;
identifying and assessing long term consequences of proposed
* Ecologically responsible – reflective and supportive of nature’s
underlying processes, patterns and principles.
* Verifiable – able to withstand rigorous empirical testing.
* Replicable – capable of being readily undertaken by others.
* Achievable – likely to be implemented successfully and broadly


How to Enter

Entries for The Buckminster Fuller Challenge will be accepted via our
web-based platform or the post beginning September 4th and ending
October 30th, 2007.


Entries will be limited to a maximum total of 1500 words. You will
also be permitted to submit up to six images with your entry.

The final application will ask you to address the following:

1. The problem you are trying to solve and/or the preferred state
you are trying to achieve.
2. Your solution and your plan to implement it.
3. How you are going to finance it.
4. Who is going to do it.
5. Who will vouch for you and your plan.

Entries to THE BUCKMINSTER FULLER CHALLENGE will be accepted from
September 4th – October 30th, 2007.

To receive an entry form announcement, please sign up for our mailing


In design science, the trimtab metaphor is used to describe an
artifact, or system, specifically designed and placed in the
environment at such a time, in such a place, where its effects would
be maximized, thereby effecting the most advantageous change with the
least resources, time and energy. Doing more with less.




Design Science
In the words of Buckminster Fuller, Design Science is “effective
application of the principles of science to the conscious design of
our total environment in order to help make the Earth’s finite
resources meet the needs of all humanity without disrupting the
ecological processes of the planet.”.


Individuals and/or teams may submit no more than 1 (one) entry for
consideration. Entries will be accepted if the individual and/or team

* Are 18 years of age or older.
* Maintain a current and valid form of identification appropriate
to country of residence.
* Submit entry in English.
* Follow the submission process completely and on time.
* Remit a non-refundable processing fee ($50).
* Are available to be contacted by email or telephone at any point
in the evaluation process, and are available (if requested) for a site
visit by a member of the evaluation committee.
* Are able to attend (or send a representative to) a prize
ceremony in June, 2008 in New York City (travel and accommodation
expenses will be paid for by The Challenge program).

Entries will be subject to a preliminary screening for compliance with
eligibility and entry requirements. Compliant entries will be
evaluated and a group of semi-finalists will be chosen.

Semi-finalists will be asked to respond to additional questions and,
if necessary, will be contacted directly to clarify their responses. A
select number will advance to the finalist phase.

Finalists will be interviewed and a winner will be selected by a
distinguished panel of judges.

Program Timeline:

Sep 4 – Oct 30 Period for accepting entries
Oct 30 Submission deadline for all entries (mailed entries to be
postmarked by Oct. 30)
Oct 31 – Nov 30 Entry evaluation period
Dec 3 Semi-finalists chosen and notified. Additional questions
submitted to semi-finalists.

Feb 16 Deadline for Semi-finalist responses (mailed entries to be
postmarked by Feb. 16)
Feb 18 – Mar 28 Semi-finalist evaluation period
Mar 31 Finalists chosen and notified
Mar 30 – May 2 Finalists Interviewed
May 12 Jury deliberations begin
Jun 2 Winner of The Buckminster Fuller Challenge notified
Jun TBA Public announcements of the winner
Jun TBA Conferring of the prize

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge Winner:

The winner (individual or team) will receive a $100,000 cash prize to
support the on-going development and implementation of their winning

Additional benefits conferred in 2008 to the winning entry include:

* Round trip airfare to New York City (accommodations included) to
receive the Prize at a ceremony to which the press and guests will be
* Opportunities to present winning work at events organized by the
Buckminster Fuller Institute in the United States, and subject to
funding, abroad.
* Opportunities to present winning work to the international
* Exposure of winning work through the Buckminster Fuller
Institute’s outreach programs.
* Work will be featured in an annual Buckminster Fuller Challenge
print publication.

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge Finalists:

Finalists in the Challenge will receive:

* Featured recognition of work through the Buckminster Fuller
Institute’s outreach programs.
* Presentation of work in an annual Buckminster Fuller Challenge
print publication.

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge Semi-finalists:

Semi-finalists will be invited to feature their entries for public
access on the program’s easy-to-use searchable website. A press
announcement will be published and circulated encouraging the
international press and interested public to view the work.


The Buckminster Fuller Challenge is currently seeking press partners
(national and international).

To discuss a potential partnership, please contact.


Financial Support for The Buckminster Fuller Challenge

Prize monies and basic operational funding have been made possible by
the visionary support of an individual anonymous donor to the
Buckminster Fuller Institute.


The Buckminster Fuller Institute is accepting sponsorship proposals
from companies, organizations and individuals whose mission clearly
aligns with the goals of the program to sponsor its core features.
These include a high-profile ceremony event; a national lecture tour
for challenge winner; professionally produced annual publications
featuring Challenge winner and finalists.

If you or your company would like to discuss sponsorship opportunities
please contact:

Angela Molenaar
Director of Development
718 290 9282

Elizabeth Thompson
Executive Director
718 290 9285



These documents comprise a series entitled “World Design Science

The series originates with the proposal made by R. Buckminster Fuller
to the International Union of Architects (I. U. A. ) at their VIIth
Congress in London, England in July, 1961. He proposed then that the
architectural schools around the world be encouraged by the I. U. A.
to invest the next ten years in a continuing problem of how to make
the total world’s resources which [in 1961] serve only 40% serve 100%
of humanity through competent design despite a continuing decrease of
metal resources per capita.

In essence, The World Design Science Decade series of documents
suggests, in great detail, ways in which world architectural schools,
and specifically their students, should initiate, and assume The
Design Science Decade. The total series includes many of Fuller’s most
prescient ideas.

A note from the series editor, John McHale:

“Though the language of some of the texts may seem difficult at first
approach, it should be borne in mind that one of our major problems in
thinking today [1965] is the use of language systems which still
represent a fixed, structurally compartmentalized world view. The
terms available to us for the expression of dynamic, rather than
static, concepts are far from satisfactory. Fuller’s language is
particularly representative of the ‘transitional state’ (of the
western world) between the older, traditional, noun-centered culture
to its present day, changing, verb-centered culture’. In his search
for an adequately descriptive terminology he tends to employ concepts
and usages from many different fields juxtaposed in ways which may be
unfamiliar to those more customarily restrained within the
vocabularies of particular disciplines.”

* Phase I (1963) Document 1: Inventory of World Resources Human
Trends and Needs by R.
* Phase I (1964) Document 2: The Design Initiative by R.
Buckminster Fuller [pdf 113mb]
* Phase I (1965) Document 3: Comprehensive Thinking by R.
Buckminster Fuller [pdf 3.8mb]
* Phase I (1965) Document 4: The Ten Year Program by R.
Buckminster Fuller and John McHale [pdf 75 mb]
* Phase II (1967) Document 5: Introduction to Comprehensive Design
Strategy by R. Buckminster Fuller [pdf 1mb]
* Phase II (1967) Document 5: Comprehensive Design Strategy by R.
Buckminster Fuller [pdf 222k]
* Phase II (1967) Document 5: Chronofile by R. Buckminster Fuller
[pdf 73k]
* Phase II (1967) Document 6: The Ecological Context Energy and
Materials by John McHale [pdf 89mb]
* Document I: The World Game (1971) The World Game: Integrative
Resource Utilization Planning Tool by R. Buckminster Fuller.

Design Science Primer documentEnvironmental Design Science Primer by
Howard Brown, Robert Cook & Medard Gabel

From the foreword: This primer outlines one alternative to present
problem-solving techniques, an approach Buckminster Fuller calls
“comprehensive anticipatory design science.” Design science is “the
effective application of the principles of science tothe conscious
design of our total environment in order to help make the Earth’s
finite resources meet the needs of all of humanity without disrupting
the ecological processes of the planet.”

Environmental Design Science Primer by Howard Brown, Robert Cook &
Medard Gabel [pdf 4.2mb]

Places to IntervenePlaces to Intervene in a System by Donella H.

Dr. Donella H. Meadows (Ph.D. in biophysics, Harvard University), a
Pew Scholar in Conservation and Environment and a MacArthur Fellow,
was one of the most influential environmental thinkers of the
twentieth century.

The central thesis of Places to Intervene in the System is “Leverage
points are not intuitive. Or if they are, we intuitively use them
backward, systematically worsening whatever problems we are trying to
solve.” Leverage points are those “places within a complex system (a
corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a
small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything.”

Places to Intervene in a System by Donella H. Meadows [pdf 92k ]

Sustainability Principes DocumentSustainability: The Five Core
Principles by Michael Ben-Eli

Dr. Michael Ben-Eli is an international consultant on management and
organization. He was a student and close associate of Buckminster
Fuller, with whom he collaborated on projects involving research on
advanced structural systems and exploration of issues related to the
management of technology and world resources for the advantage of all.

The Five Core Principles of Sustainability have been developed to
serve as a new framework to advance our understanding of what must
guide our actions if we intend to implement breakthrough
sustainability practices.

“If you wish to fly and want to successfully construct an aircraft in
order to do so, you need to understand the basic principles of
aerodynamics. Similarly, if we are serious about ensuring a
sustainable future, we need to be guided by a set of principles which
underlie sustainability as an enduring state.” – M. Ben-Eli

Sustainability: The Five Core Principles by Michael Ben-Eli [pdf
112k ]


* Are there any restrictions on the cash prize?

The cash prize is intended to be used to take the winning
strategy to the next stage of development. BFI will remain in contact
with the prize recipient for a minimum of one year to follow the
progress of development.

* Are entries limited to a particular area or field of endeavor?

No, entries may relate to any field of human enterprise.
Examples include: art, architecture, community development, design,
decision support and visualization, education and learning,
engineering, human health, industry, infrastructure and the built
environment, innovations in finance and accounting, innovative use of
existing technology and new technology innovations (actual technology
artifacts and systems or software), policy and legislative
initiatives, public awareness, and scientific discovery.

* What topical themes are you looking for?

Entries may relate to any topic or theme. We are interested in
receiving entries that take a comprehensive approach to solving our
most pressing problems.

* How far along does my solution need to be in order to be

Entries at the start-up stage are acceptable as well as those at
more advanced stages of development. What is more important than the
stage of development is the degree to which the prize monies will make
an impact on the further development of your solution. It is our
intention that prize monies will effect maximum advantageous change.

* If I have a great solution, how much experience must I or my
team have in order to enter The Challenge?

The state of an applicant’s or team’s career is of less
importance than the overall capacity of the team, the quality and
achievability of the solution itself, and its potential to be a
“trimtab” (see definitions below). You and your team members need to
be 18 years of age. If you are lacking in experience we suggest you
make a strong case in your entry for your capacity and find highly
experienced people who can vouch for you and your idea.

* I know someone whose work should be considered to win this
Challenge. Can I submit an entry on their behalf.

There are special circumstances under which we will consider
submissions made on behalf of someone else. For example, the
originator of a solution may not know about the Challenge, does not
have access to a computer or the internet, does not read/write/speak
English, lives in a remote location without postal service, is too
modest to enter on his/her own, etc.

Entries entered on behalf of an individual/or team will be
accepted if the following considerations are met:

1. Permission must be granted by the project originator for
someone else to enter the Challenge on their behalf.
2. If the entry is invited to be considered beyond Stage One
of the Challenge selection process, the project leader must be
available to respond to further inquiry (either directly or through a
3. If the entry wins the Challenge, the project leader (or
representative selected by the project team) must be available to
receive the prize in person at a ceremony in New York.

* What is a “trimtab”?

Buckminster Fuller referred to the function of a trimtab in
nautical and aeronautical design to demonstrate how small amounts of
energy and resources precisely applied at the right time and place can
produce maximum advantageous change.

A large ship moving through the ocean has great momentum.
Turning the rudder changes the direction of the ship but with great
effort. Turning the trimtab – a tiny rudder on the trailing edge of
the main rudder – causes an initial momentum allowing the main rudder
to turn with less effort in pulling the whole ship around.

Buckminster Fuller said, “When I thought about steering the
course of the ‘Spaceship Earth’ and all of humanity, I saw most people
trying to turn the boat by pushing the bow around.”

“I saw that by being all the way at the tail of the ship, by
just kicking my foot to one side or the other, I could create the ‘low
pressure’ which would turn the whole ship. If ever someone wanted to
write my epitaph, I would want it to say ‘Call me Trimtab’.”

From What’s a Trimtab?

“Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little
man could do. Think of the Queen Mary – the whole ship goes by and
then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the
rudder called a trimtab.

It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds
a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at
all. So I said that the little individual can be a trimtab. Society
thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if
you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just
put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going
to go.

So I said, call me Trimtab.”

– R. Buckminster Fuller, Barry Farrell (Playboy Interview, Feb

In design science, the trimtab metaphor is used to describe an
artifact, or system, specifically designed and placed in the
environment at such a time, in such a place, where its effects would
be maximized, thereby effecting the most advantageous change with the
least resources, time and energy. Doing more with less.

For more definitions please visit

* How do I submit my $50 processing fee?

The preferred method of submitting fees will be via a secure, on-
line payment system accessible through the Challenge website,
beginning September 4, 2007. An optional method for submitting fees is
by check or money order made payable to The Buckminster Fuller
Institute and sent to:

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge
181 N. 11th Street, Ste. 402
Brooklyn, NY 11211

You entry will not be considered complete until your processing
fee has been received.

* Who are the judges?

We will publish the names of our judges as they become
available. There will be three stages of evaluation of entries to The
Buckminster Fuller Challenge.

The first stage is a thorough screening of entries to ensure
compliance with the eligibility and entry requirements. This means
that your entry must be complete, on-time, accompanied by the non-
refundable $50 processing fee, in English, one entry per individual or
team, all team members 18 years of age or older.

The semi-finalist stage of evaluation will be conducted by a
committee comprised of both highly qualified experienced generalists
and topic-related experts. Both the semi-finalist and finalist entries
will be evaluated in this manner.

The winner will be selected by a distinguished, international
panel of jurors, to be announced.

* Are there intellectual property issues I should be concerned

Our intellectual property policy is currently being formulated.
We will post it soon.