20 February 2017

NCI expands reach through new university partnership

Fifteen years ago, NCI launched what has become the leading professional training in collaborative design and charrettes. Since then, we have trained thousands of public and private planners, and designers and community activists in our certificate program. We have worked directly with communities on projects across the country, helping them change the way they work together.

On January 1, 2017, NCI entered a new partnership with the Michigan State University (MSU) School of Planning, Design and Construction (SPDC) and MSU Extension. The NCI’s new home will be at MSU and will grow through this partnership, reaching more people and more markets.

The NCI program will evolve into a universal system for Collaboration by Design, bringing the power of charrettes and other tools to non-traditional audiences, such as agriculture, business and engineering. Importantly, this partnership will allow NCI at MSU to begin conducting research in the efficacy of Collaboration by Design in community planning, long an NCI goal. The NCI certificate program will continue and grow through the reach of MSU Extension and MSU’s international programs. The big news for us is the launch of the first online NCI certificate training opportunity in spring 2017. This online course will be available for credit and non-credit. This offering will make the NCI program available to people worldwide, in their own place on their own time.

After serving 15 years as director, I will play an active role as a part-time member of the NCI faculty at MSU, and the NCI board of advisors. I will continue to teach the NCI Certificate program. Wayne Beyea, an MSU senior specialist with MSU Extension and a faculty member with SPDC, will be the interim director during this transition period. MSU Extension is committed to funding a permanent director. Dave Ivan, the director of the MSU Extension institute that focuses on community and economic development, plans to begin a nationwide search soon with hopes of having a permanent director on board in fall 2017.

Aarin Lutzenhiser and I are assisting in the transition of operations to assure that the same high quality of training and customer service that you have come to expect will continue. You can continue to find us online at www.charretteinstitute.org.

The NCI founders and board chose MSU as NCI’s new home, because of their capability to run trainings, conduct research, and extend our reach and connect with new markets both nationally and internationally. Most importantly, Wayne and the people at MSU Extension share our values and vision for the next NCI to serve more people with Collaboration by Design. For the last 10 years, NCI has worked in Michigan, supporting MSU’s nationally recognized placemaking efforts.

This is a very exciting time of change. You can look forward to the creation of more ways for NCI to support you in your work to transform your community. Thanks for your interest and support in NCI.


Bill Lennertz