Summer [IN]STITUTE in Environmental Design


July 5 - August 12, 2016

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 methodologies, [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.

Planning Studio Instruction

[IN]CITY also has a daily studio designed to provide practical, hands-on experience. Past clients include the City of Berkeley and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area’s regional transportation planning agency. 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 which requires planners to speak 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

*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 and PhD candidate in 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)