September 23, 2014, New York City - The Buckminster Fuller Institute is pleased to announce the Finalists for the 2014 Fuller Challenge. Now in its 7th cycle, The Fuller Challenge invites designers, architects, activists, entrepreneurs, artists, planners and scientists, from all over the world to submit their game-changing solutions to solve humanity’s most pressing problems. A $100,000 prize is awarded to support the development and implementation of one outstanding strategy.

With the strongest and most diverse pool of entrants to date effecting change in 93 countries across the world, The Fuller Challenge remains the only prize program specifically working to identify, catalyze and celebrate individuals and teams employing a whole systems approach to problem solving. Buckminster Fuller described this approach as comprehensive, anticipatory, design science and was one of the early pioneers of design-thinking that starts with a deep understanding of the "big picture" context, or macro-system, of a problem space.

"We are very proud to track the impact our prize program is having on the international discussion about how to address the big challenges we face. References to holistic, systemic and integrated approaches are everywhere, but it remains difficult to really understand this approach unless you can see it applied in a specific context. This is complex, complicated, long-term work that does not lend itself well to a simple sound bite or elevator pitch. The Fuller Challenge continues to be unique as a showcase for applied whole systems design and the remarkable people at the leading edge of this approach," said Elizabeth Thompson, BFI’s Executive Director and Co-founder of The Fuller Challenge.

R. Buckminster Fuller defined design as "the 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." Each of our seven finalists detailed below applies Fuller’s expansive definition of design. They also embody Fuller’s definition of a design scientist as a synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist.


The seven proposals now under consideration for the prestigious 2014 grand prize of $100,000 have undergone a rigorous, multi-stage review for adherence to the Challenge entry criteria by the members of the Challenge Review Committee including targeted analysis and evaluation by a select group of experts and advisors. Detailed information about each project and associated media can be viewed at


The Force Majeure, a bold, large-scale vision of the world-renowned artists Helen and Newton Harrison, proposes to "reduce the entropy of planetary ecosystems in the face of human-induced climate change". Their proposal is distinguished by its scale, holistic framework, and collaboration between artists and scientists. Their goal of developing Entropy Analysis as a new research field is just one example of their provocative attempts to engage individuals in, as Bucky would say, "thinking at the scale of the problem" by exposing people viscerally to the complexities of ecosystem change, huge issues such as global carrying capacity, and the role of indeterminacy in effective systems intervention. In their 2014 proposal, four research sites have been proposed in which the Harrisons and scientists will experiment with methods to assist nature in its response to massive system disturbances.

Sagehen update 


We spent the day of Saturday with our team on Sagehen. Some issues came up, having similar implications to the gaming we are working on that your group might possibly fin of interest. 

The 12,800 plants are now in place in 15 plots on the five different altitude sites in the Sagehen watershed. We were joined this past weekend by the hydrologist Terry Hogue who will begin a hydrological interrogation of our sites in congruence with the position we take that a resilience ensemble will resist drought and hold waters in the ground in the highly stressed future predictions of the Sierra High Grounds. 

A second scientist will also be joining our team. Her name is Rachel Vannette, she is an ecologist who is interested in and she will be investigating the sub-soil biological changes in relationship to global warming that our experiment instigates. 

When our investigations close, the forest team, Jeff Brown and Faerthen Felix who are already working on the site, will use the site to repeat a similar experiment using trees. 

When we began all of this two years ago we had a simple experiment in mind. It turns out that our experimentation was by no means simple, and it appears to be attracting other scientists to it. That is to say, that like nature itself, this lovely little work is going about the business of self-complicating. 

The reason we are so moved by this kind of ensemble work is that it appears that if we are even reasonably successful, we will have indicated that even deeply stressed-ecosystems that are watershed-based, can regenerate with human assistance, with the energies to regenerate existing within the watershed directly. 


The ground strategy for the Center for the Force Majeure has clarified somewhat. As background information, we are quite aware of the discourse and conflicts around assistance to the migration of species. We personally came to clarity on this issue in the mid-1990’s when working on the Endangered Meadows of Europe. We discovered then that Hannibal’s Elephants had unwittingly assisted the migration of almost a third of the species in the European meadows that we were studying. The Force Majeure strategy is based on the notion that exploited natural systems experience increase of entropy (or disorder) whereas natural systems reduce entropy or create order by the very complex transactions reflected in natures processes of give and take. Obviously most systems exploited for human use are not exchange-based but about taking with little or no thought to give in return.

The ground strategies are as follows:

1. To address accelerated warming or disorder in the high grounds, the Sagehen Experiment has been funded and is in process. On September 3rd, the 10-year scientific review was done on all the research at Sagehen. The concept of locating resilience ensembles that our research explores was noted as scientifically reasonable, valid, and indeed a useful experiment.

2. The High Ground work for Tibet, where a simple succession ecosystem is created in such a way that it follows a glacier uphill is agreed upon and the site selected.

3. The concept of assisting a healthy ecosystem to develop in the probable 400,000-acre estuarial lagoon that we propose will happen to the Bay of San Francisco with a 3-meter ocean rise is under consideration. Funding is being sought to form the first think group to develop this idea. 

4. The concept of the Eemian Garden, which draws species from the Eemian period of paleo-history to create species ensembles of potential use in future ecosystems, has a site approved in he Arroyo Secco drain basin that leads to the LA river. The intention is to design (and to make a public event out of our proposal to generate and Eemian garden that operates in real time. Initial funding is in place. 

We have come to understand that the strategies for exploring, proving and then enacting the migration of species as a response to the ecological distress associated with accelerated global warming needs multiple approaches, different in the high grounds, the waters, the floodplains, the lower grounds and in mid-continent.

Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food Supplies

 A leaked draft of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that climate change could reduce output and send prices higher when global food demand is expected to soar. 


Aerial Video of our Sagehen site.

See the full description of our Sagehen Work for further information.

On February 6, 2013

Helen and Newton gave a lecture about their work and exhibition, The Harrison Studio: On Mixing, Mapping and Territory, at the Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery at UCSC. The show ran through March 15, 2013 at the Sesnon Gallery in Porter College.