Graduate School of Design announces R. Buckminster Fuller Professorship of Design Science

Amy Edmondson, John Katzenberger, Bucky, Thomas Crum.

Amy C. Edmondson (from left), John Katzenberger, Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller, and Thomas Crum (1982). Photo courtesy of Amy C. Edmondson

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Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) announces the establishment of the R. Buckminster Fuller Professorship of Design Science, thanks to the generosity of Amy C. Edmondson ’81, A.M. ’95, Ph.D. ’96, and George Q. Daley ’82, M.D. ’91.

Edmondson and Daley both have long-standing ties to Harvard University — Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School (HBS) and worked with Fuller after her graduation from Harvard College, and Daley is the dean of Harvard Medical School and the Caroline Shields Walker Professor of Medicine. The GSD will soon begin a search for a visionary scholar to serve as the inaugural R. Buckminster Fuller Professor of Design Science.

R. Buckminster Fuller (1895–1983) was a renowned 20th-century inventor, designer, engineer, and philosopher, and a member of the Harvard College Class of 1917. Through a design-science approach, he worked to solve global problems related to energy, transportation, and education, among other fields. Fuller has influenced generations of designers, architects, scientists, and artists working to create a more sustainable planet. His most well-known artifact is the geodesic dome.

Edmondson came to know Fuller’s work through the Harvard course “Synergetics: The Structure of Ordered Space” along with a lecture Fuller presented at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Upon corresponding with him, he offered her a job as his Chief Engineer. This pivotal experience shaped Edmondson’s career and ultimately led her to her work at HBS, studying people and teams who seek to make a positive difference through the work they do. She describes Fuller as “an inspirational, joyful, brilliant, and invitingly inclusive person,” and she was influenced by his way of thinking that centrally involved design.

Edmondson and Daley connect with Fuller’s belief that designers can make a difference through their work and celebrate the role of responsible design for making a difference in the world. “Buckminster Fuller was interested in making a better world through the power of design. There is no more fitting place to honor his legacy than at the GSD by creating the R. Buckminster Fuller Professorship of Design Science,” said Edmondson and Daley. “Bucky’s spirit of innovation and invention lives on to inspire others to forge new discoveries and to take better care of each other and our planet for future generations.”

“Amy and George are championing a legacy of world-class scholarship at the GSD. I am grateful for their generosity to sustain a thriving academic community at the School,” said Sarah M. Whiting, the GSD’s Dean and Josep Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture. “Through their commitment, the R. Buckminster Fuller Professorship of Design Science will help the GSD to attract the best faculty and students and serve as a perpetual reminder of Fuller’s legacy in design innovation and sustainability.”