Solving Complex Global Issues with Buckminster Fuller Challenge’s Elizabeth Thompson

May 6, 2011

Elizabeth Thompson is the Executive Director of Buckminster Fuller Challenge program, which awards a $100,000 prize annually to a proposal for a likely solution to a major global issue. The program is unique in that it presents a large-scale award annually without specifically denoting a given issue that needs solving. Applicants for the Buckminster Fuller Challenge must demonstrate a compelling argument that the problem they are addressing is a major leverage point in our global systems. Issues span the gamut of social and environmental change, from restoring the world’s soils and investing in women’s income, to designing new urban transportation systems and more. “In other words,” Thompson explains, “if this particular problem is solved in a comprehensive way, it will have the effect of solving many other symptomatic issues at the same time. It’s a comprehensive approach — solving multiple problems simultaneously — that we’re really championing. We’re not interested in solving the symptoms, we’re interested in solving the root causes.”