Summer [IN]STITUTE in Environmental Design


July 5 - August 12, 2016

Program Description

[IN]CITY is a comprehensive six week introduction to the study and practice of urban planning through the lens of sustainability. By attending daily lectures and engaging in studio work, students acquire the skills necessary to inform planning proposals. [IN]CITY projects are real projects with actual clients who represent a diverse group of stakeholder organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. These organizations actively aim to influence sustainable planning policy at the local, county and regional levels.

[IN]CITY students develop in-depth recommendations, analyses and proposals for these client projects, which run the gamut of planning practice: housing and design, bike mobility and transportation, public health and environmental justice, community development and gentrification, urban design, climate action and art in public spaces. In doing so, participants have an opportunity to influence planning in the Bay Area by exploring institutional, political, social, economic and environmental policy challenges. 

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.

Planning Studio Instruction

[IN]CITY's daily studio is designed to provide practical, hands-on experience. Past clients include the City of Berkeley, City of Oakland, Kala Institute, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, among others. 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. A key aspect of [IN]CITY is the practice of oral presentation skills through ongoing pin ups, reviews, desk crits and presentations. These skills are crucial for a successful career in planning, where much time is spent communicating with non-technical audiences and working in multi-disciplinary teams.

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


Typical [IN]CITY Weekly Schedule

*Please note: students often dedicate evenings and weekends to Institute projects

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

[IN]CITY Academic Lead

Nicola Szibbo


Nicola Szibbo is an urban designer with a PhD from the Department of City and Regional Planning (DCRP) at UC Berkeley. She holds a BA from the University of British Columbia in anthropology and environmental design, and a Master of City Planning (MCP) concentrating in urban design from UC Berkeley. She has worked as an urban planner and an urban designer for both the Port of San Francisco and the City of Surrey in British Columbia, Canada, focusing on design guidelines and best management practices (BMP) research for parks, greenways and open spaces. Nicola has also worked for a variety of institutes at UC Berkeley, including the Center for Resource Efficient Communities (CREC), the Urban Analytics Lab, Global Metropolitan Studies (GMS), and as a Research Associate for the Institute for Environmental Entrepreneurship (IEE) in Downtown Berkeley. Nicola’s current research focuses on LEED-ND (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development), sustainable neighborhood rating systems, social equity and livability, in addition to the design and development of pedestrian rating systems. Her research and work has been published in the Berkeley Planning Journal (BPJ), PND Online and the Traditional Dwelling and Settlements Review (TDSR). Forthcoming publications include work in the Journal of the American Planning Association (JAPA) and the Journal of Planning Education and Research (JPER).


[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:

  • [IN]CITY (2014)
  • CY PLAN 118AC: The Urban Community
  • CY PLAN 110: Introduction to City Planning (as a GSI)
  • ESPM 102D: Resource and Environmental Policy (as a GSI)