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, participants 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. 

[IN]CITY is geared towards post-baccalaureate students who are considering graduate study in environmental design. No previous planning or design experience is necessary to be considered.

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

2017 [IN]CITY Academic Lead

Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson


Ginette Wessel

Elisa Barbour

Policy Instructor


Ph.D, City & Regional Planning, UC Berkeley

B.A., Political Science, Oberlin College

Elisa Barbour is a post-doctoral research fellow for the Department of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, where she received her PhD in 2015. Her research focuses on sustainability planning for transportation, land use, and the environment. Previously she worked for ten years at the Public Policy Institute of California, conducting research on topics related to state, regional, and local planning for infrastructure, land use, and the environment. 

Teaching Philosophy:

Barbour’s teaching approach builds upon her professional experience as a community organizer and policy analyst, as well as her academic work. She brings real-world policy-making and community-building challenges and opportunities into the classroom, calling on students to engage in collaborative learning that integrates theory and practice, and makes use of multiple research methods and sources of knowledge. With a primary focus on planning and policy for sustainable development, Barbour aims to help students better understand and engage with the multi-level institutional and policy-making structures that both hinder and facilitate sustainability goals.