Summer [IN]STITUTE in Environmental Design


Program Description

This six-week course introduces students to the complex civic, social, and environmental issues that are at the heart of the discipline of sustainable urban planning. Through hands-on projects that use the latest research and methodology, [IN]CITY students address issues such as:  sustainable transportation and land use, economic development, urban health and social policy, environmental assessment and sustainability, global urbanization and poverty, and urban design for livable places.   Students work with faculty, local planners, and civic clients as a first step in an education that will create cities, infrastructure, and public services that are sustainable, affordable, healthy, and accessible to all.

Summer Institute

"[IN]CITY was a fun and challenging experience! I learned valuable skills and information that enhanced my ability to change career paths from green building to community and economic development planning in a surprisingly short amount of time."

Nicole Jesslyn Agbayani, [IN]CITY Alumna

Daily Seminar

The daily seminar offers an overview of sustainability issues related to several different areas in sustainable urbanism including community development, housing, land use, transportation, urban design and water. Internationally-renowned faculty from CED’s Department of City and Regional Planning provide engaging lectures and discussions around these topics. During the seminar, students also participate in site visits and tours of cutting-edge projects and programs, and meet with the local officials involved.

Design Studio Instruction

[IN]CITY also has a daily studio designed to provide "hands-on" practical experience. Past clients include the City of Berkeley and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area’s regional transportation planning agency. During the 2011 [IN]CITY program, students developed in-depth recommendations for the City of Berkeley regarding the implementation of its Climate Action Plan, which has aggressive goals for reducing carbon emissions. Students also applied their work to key regional and State goals as well as to local goals that included Berkeley neighborhoods.

Instructors with many years of experience in sustainability planning teach the studio. The studio products are designed for students to explore key policy challenges (institutional, political, social, economic, environmental, among others) and to develop tangible design and planning strategies.

To develop these strategies, students conduct data analysis related to demographics, land use, and transportation; learn city and street design and drawing techniques; and, critically evaluate complex and sometimes contentious "real-world" policy and planning options. Students also further develop oral and written communication skills, which are key to a successful career where planners spend much time speaking both to non-technical and technical audiences.

Summer Institute

Thank you for a great summer. I’m at the school I strived for, thanks to the [IN]CITY program.

Alvaro Arias, [IN]CITY Alumnus

The [IN]CITY program provides students with introductory skills in urban planning and policy methods, including data collection/analysis, physical planning, mapping and visual representation. Students will also gain a broad knowledge on sustainability planning and learn how to translate sustainability objectives into clear scopes of action. They will also develop the ability to express planning and policy matters in clear verbal and graphic terms while learning how to work effectively with other students, professors and clients through hands-on team projects. Students will be introduced to land use policies and urban development processes and develop critical thinking, observation, and analysis regarding an understanding of cities.

Typical [IN]CITY Weekly Schedule

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
9:00 Lecture Lecture Lecture Lecture  
1:00 Studio Studio Studio Studio Field Trips

[IN]CITY Academic Lead

Fernando Burga



Fernando Burga obtained his Ph.D. degree from the Department of City and Regional planning at UC Berkeley. He holds a joint masters degree in architecture and urban design from the University of Miami. Fernando has worked as an architect, urban designer and planner in a range of projects including mixed-use residential developments, transit oriented developments, master planned communities, Hope VI neighborhoods, and military housing. Informed by his experience as a professional practitioner, Fernando's research explores equity and the politics of identity, race and citizenship in sustainable urbanism, urban design and planning policy. His most current project focuses on the application of design thinking, data visualization, cognitive mapping and user-oriented design techniques to enable practices of citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

His research has been published in Places magazine and the Berkeley Planning Journal. Forthcoming publications of his work will appear in the Journal of Planning History and an anthology sponsored by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts entitled On the Spatial Epistemologies of Politics, Or how we know Politics through Space: Essays for Design Studies.


[IN]CITY is a laboratory where quantitative and qualitative research methods meet the tools of design. These lenses turn sustainability into a question that frames intellectual discovery. Students' interests may vary according to specific needs, cases, and contexts, yet I train them to become the best critics of their own work and to consider the value of their own experience as a source of inspiration and motivation. The issues that students face as residents, commuters, consumers, and, most importantly, as citizens of their community will provide them with the essential lessons needed to answer their questions about sustainability.

Courses taught at UC Berkeley:

  • Race and Equity in the City
  • INCity Studio 2011-2014
  • The Urban Community (as GSI)
  • Housing in Developing Countries (as GSI)
  • Global Poverty (as GSI)
  • Graphics for Planners (as GSI)