Spring 2022 Recap: MetroBridge Connects Local Governments and Community Organizations With BU Students and Faculty

By Amelia Murray-Cooper

During the spring 2022 semester, students at Boston University partnered with local governments and community-based organizations through the MetroBridge Program to address real-world urban challenges. MetroBridge is the Initiative on Cities’ experiential learning program that enables students to meet the distinct needs of local partners through research on topics like racial equity, sustainability, and civic engagement. Under faculty guidance, students in eight graduate and undergraduate courses completed projects in spring 2022, ranging from parking policy analysis to the development of historic walking tours.

Best Practices Research on Health Equity Initiatives in Worcester

Undergraduate students in Lecturer Kaytlin Eldred’s course, Cultural Humility, Racial Justice, and Health (SAR HS 349) in BU’s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, supported the Coalition for a Healthy Greater Worcester by performing research and providing recommendations for how to improve the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). CHIP is a regional strategic plan for addressing health disparities and improving community health. Each student team focused on one of four chosen strategies from the CHIP’s Action Agenda–mobilizing community health services; implementing trainings on anti-racism, LGBTQIA+ acceptance, cultural humility, and empathetic communication; broadening and scaling resource navigation systems; and developing recruitment, retainment and advancement strategies to diversify the workforce. Student research aimed to identify communities that have implemented similar plans and analyze those peer initiatives for success, potential improvements, and cost. Students completed the semester by creating a summary report and presenting their findings to Coalition staff. Learn more.

Historical Research and Development of Six Walking Tours in Chelsea

In Professor Bruce J. Schulman’s History of Boston: Community and Conflict (CAS HI 190) course, students developed six historic walking tours for the City of Chelsea that covered a broad range of topics, including Post-1965 Immigration, Business and Industry, Public Transit, The Fires of 1908 and 1973, Urban Renewal, and Food History. Each team developed a website with a trail map, site descriptions, photographs, links to archival materials, and an oral history transcript or recording. To inform their research, the students accessed archival materials at the Chelsea Public Library and interviewed relevant community members. After the successful completion of their walking tours, the student teams presented their work to the BU community and leadership from the City of Chelsea. Learn more.

Analysis of Parking Programs and Policies in Providence

David Glick, Associate Professor and Faculty Director of the MetroBridge Program, taught his course Local Policy Analysis Lab (CAS PO 524) in partnership with the City of Providence. Undergraduate students performed an analysis of Providence’s residential parking permit program and researched how other cities’ policies and programs compare. They explored inequities in car ownership and usage, community participation in overnight parking programs, incentives to reduce car use, and the value of off-street parking. One student team took a trip to Providence, talking to residents about their experiences with the City’s parking programs, while another interviewed market experts to understand the relationship between parking and real estate. At the end of the semester, each team presented to City of Providence staff and finalized reports summarizing their findings. Learn more.

Proposing Creative Ideas for Enhancing The Old Colony Planning Council’s Public Engagement in Planning Projects

Students in Master Lecturer Ian Mashiter’s Ideas to Impact (QST SI 250) course in Questrom School of Business undertook primary research to support the Old Colony Planning Council’s (OCPC) engagement with younger generations. Focusing on the City of Brockton, teams of students undertook primary research by interviewing staff from OCPC and residents in the millennial age group and proposing creative ideas for enhancing Old Colony’s engagement with this population. The deliverables for the project included a short report and presentation describing the overall design process and proposed solutions.

Recommendations on Engaging with Residents of Kenmore Abbey to Inform Charlesgate Park Revitalization

Graduate students in Lecturer Haegi Kwon’s Equity and Social Justice (MET UA 510) course in the Metropolitan College’s Department of City Planning and Urban Affairs supported the Charlesgate Alliance, a nonprofit organization founded to protect and restore the Charlesgate Park in Boston. Students supported the Alliance’s goal of establishing a relationship with Kenmore Abbey—an affordable housing development near the park—and developing a better understanding of what the residents would like to see out of the new Charlesgate Park Revitalization Project. The course offered a two-part deliverable: 1. A new survey for Kenmore Abbey residents, and 2. Recommendations on how to best include residents in the decision-making process and promote more equitable access to and diversity in the park. The students shared their findings through a final report and presentations to the Alliance.

Local Politics and Policy Analysis to Inform the Old Colony Planning Council’s Public Engagement in Planning Projects

Associate Professors Katherine Levine Einstein and David Glick led The Politics and Policy of HBO’s The Wire (CAS PO 313) course in which students performed research for the Old Colony Planning Council (OCPC) to inform their public engagement processes. Students worked in teams to complete a comprehensive local politics and policy analysis of 17 communities in the Planning Council’s service area. As part of this analysis, student teams generated a list of contacts and organizations in their assigned community and a brief explanation as to why they were included. Students also generated a one-page pitch for their best idea to improve participation among less-engaged residents in their assigned community.

Proposing Marketing and Communications Ideas to Support Digital Inclusion in Fort Lauderdale

Lecturer Andrew Tarsy led students in an Action Learning Capstone (QST MG 737) course in the Questrom School of Business Department of Management, which provides first year graduate students with the opportunity to work with host partners on marketing, operations, and strategy projects. Students in Tarsy’s course supported Fort Lauderdale, which has one of the highest rates of homelessness out of suburban communities nationally. The project goal was to connect Fort Lauderdale’s homeless population to City resources digitally by ensuring that the population has broadband connectivity, access to reliable devices to use the internet, and digital fluency to understand and engage with messaging. The students researched digital fluency success in other cities and proposed various solutions, such as installing interactive kiosks with integrated apps for city services and resource access.

Development and Piloting of Police Data Dashboards in Arlington

Graduate students supported the Town of Arlington’s Police Department through the development of a pilot programming dashboard to serve as a tool to monitor and assess the Department’s responses to mental health-related calls in Assistant Professor Shea Warren Cronin’s course, Management and Accountability Analytics (MET CJ 640) in the Metropolitan College. Students used a snapshot of data over a six-month period and worked to make the dashboard compatible with Arlington’s established data tracking systems. Students concluded the semester by sharing their findings with the Town through summary memos and presentations.


Interested in registering for a MetroBridge fall 2022 course? Find the course list here!

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