Summer Programs

Disc* (Design & Innovation for Sustainable Cities)

Disc* is an immersive five-week summer program for undergraduates that explores an interdisciplinary and multi-scalar approach to design and analysis in the urban environment. Disc* participants engage in the discourses of urban innovation, and develop creative solutions to tackle the urgent challenges global cities face today.





Disc* is open to eligible students from any college or university. No prior experience in design is necessary.




The Program

Guided by UC Berkeley faculty, Bay Area urbanists, designers, makers, and entrepreneurs, Disc* students confront the most pressing challenges of global urbanization using innovative human-centered design. Disc* participants have the opportunity to develop and test their own creative ideas while working with some of the most forward-thinking researchers and practitioners from the Bay Area design community. 

Upon completion of the Disc* program, participants graduate with a strong understanding of urban dynamics and a broad toolkit with which to confront "wicked problems", as well as compelling artifacts for their academic portfolio. Disc* alumni are prepared to become the next thought leaders and game changers in the shaping of our built environment.


"Disc* challenged me to think more critically and globally, and it also sparked a newly discovered passion... I will continue pursuing this passion in the future, and what I'm taking away from Disc will carry into the future. I feel truly accomplished..."

-Disc* alum



Why Should I Attend?

  • Identify and explore the major debates around global urbanization and sustainability.

  • Understand the potentials and limitations of design and technology interventions.

  • Connect with an interdisciplinary network of highly engaged peers, faculty and practitioners.

  • Hone software and visual communication skills and develop a portfolio of digital design work.

  • Earn a Certificate of Completion and college-level credit on an official UC Berkeley transcript.



We need to view the fragility of the planet and its resources as an opportunity for speculative design innovations rather than as a form for technical legitimation for promoting conventional solutions. By extension, the problems confronting our cities and regions would then become opportunities to define a new approach.

Mohsen Mostafavi, Ecological Urbanism




Global Cities | Global Challenges Seminar

The Global Cities/Global Challenges Seminar addresses some of the most pressing challenges global cities are facing today. Through a series of lectures on the past, present and future of urban regions across five continents, we will discuss the many wicked problems cities are tackling. The seminar will also expose students to a series of success stories, showing how conditions can change for the better through the agency of environmental design.

Urban Innovation Seminar

The Urban Innovation Seminar provides a framework for discussing and contextualizing studio work. Each week, a new topic is presented in lecture to ignite lively and engaging student discussions. To prepare for every session, students are assigned readings and writings on topics that foster an understanding of the urban environment as a complex system of economic, ecological and social patterns in constant flux, examining the forces at play in the shaping of the urban environment's patterns, and exploring design as a catalyst to make our cities more just, livable and resilient.



Digital Mapping - Past, Present, Future

The GIS workshop will expose students to the fundamentals of digital Geographic Information System mapping, gaining knowledge that will directly inform their studio work. In the GIS Workshop, students will geo-reference historic maps and visualize datasets geospatially in order to create new thematic maps. Through these exercises, students will not only learn the basics of the software, but also further their understanding of the environment and culture of their sites past, present, and future, gaining specific knowledge on historic ecology, urban morphology, land use, infrastructure, and demographics.

Graphic Design + Communication

The two Graphic Design and Visual Communication workshops will cover the fundamental principles and methods for effective visual communication in the the field of environmental design. Students will be introduced to the Adobe Creative suite of software, featuring InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. The workshops will generally focus on creating high quality presentation materials from design research to site proposal. Essential topics include the creation of compelling digital presentations and presentation board layouts.

Architectural + Urban Design Graphics 

The Architectural and Urban Design Graphics workshop will build upon software skills and representation techniques developed in prior workshops with specific application to presentation-quality materials for the studio project. Emphasis will be on conventions of architectural representation, effective drawing types and styles, and the production of composite images using vector and raster graphics. 


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