Summer [IN]STITUTE in Environmental Design


July 3 - August 11, 2017

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

2016 [IN]CITY Academic Lead

Ginette Wessel

Ginette Wessel

Ginette Wessel is an urban designer and educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received a Ph.D. from the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley and holds master’s degrees in architecture and community planning from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Her research focuses on contemporary issues of urban development with an emphasis on social equity and communication technology. Her recent work combines ethnographic fieldwork and spatial data analysis to evaluate how planning and urban design address mobile food vending practices, but also to show how today’s vending trends challenge planning methods through mobility, technology, and contestation. Her research has been published in Participatory Urbanisms, Journal of Urban Design, and New Media & Society. She recently wrote a chapter on mobile vending regulations for the forthcoming MIT Press book From Loncheras to Lobsta Love: Food Trucks, Cultural Identity and Social Justice. As a member of the SPUR San Jose Policy Board and CommUniverCity San Jose, she participates in urban design initiatives, participatory planning, and sustainable urban development projects. Past public speaking engagements on her work include UCLA’s Digital Cities, Smarter Transportation Forum, Adobe’s Sustainability and Technology Forum, and UC Berkeley’s Digital Society in Context-New Media Research Workshop. She has taught at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte and the University of California, Berkeley. She currently teaches in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at San Jose State University.


As an urbanist and teacher, Ginette Wessel encourages students to actively apply their academic knowledge to real-world problems and settings in the community. Second, she exposes students to a variety of urban planning subjects and research methods to build critical thinking and analytical skills. Ultimately, her teaching philosophy fosters an understanding of today’s built environment, its institutional frameworks, and the pressing concerns of climate change through continual reflection and analysis of current cultural, social, and technological issues at varying geographic scales.

Courses taught at UC Berkeley:

  • [IN]CITY Summer Institute in Urban Planning 2012, 2013
  • Introduction to City Planning (as GSI)
  • Reading & Composition in Sustainability and Environmental Design
  • The City: Theories and Methods in Urban Studies (as GSI)
  • Undergraduate Thesis Prep & Research methods (as GSI)
  • Architectural Design Theory & Criticism (as GSI)
  • Historical Survey of Architecture & Urbanism (as GSI)

Courses taught at San Jose State University:

  • Urban Design Studio
  • Community Assessment & Collaborative Neighborhood Planning
  • Graduate Planning Report Development Capstone
  • History & Theory of Urban Design