Skip to main content Skip to footer

April 21, 2022

SVSU B.A.T.S. Project tackles difficult community challenges

Saginaw Valley State University is celebrating the 10th anniversary of a unique research initiative designed to involve students from different academic disciplines in identifying collaborative solutions to community challenges in Saginaw and other urban settings. The 2022 B.A.T.S. Project ― Business, Art, Theatre and Social Work Reinvent Urban Communities ― is designed to foster creative thinking and problem solving through a community and leadership development project.

Students and faculty from the academic programs involved will hold a presentation program on Thursday, April 21 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in SVSU’s Rhea Miller Recital Hall. The event is free and open to the public. 

Forty-two students will present the results of their research during the event, which includes poster presentations, skits, and the unveiling of murals that will be hung in SVSU’s College of Health and Human Services building. The presentations will be judged on teamwork, creativity, audience engagement, and research and clarity of message. The judges are Dominic Monastiere, Boutell/First Merit Bank Executive in Residence at SVSU’s Scott L. Carmona College of Business, and Sammy Brobbey, supply chain specialist at Microsoft.

Launched in 2012, the B.A.T.S. Project began as a means to promote collaboration across different curricula at SVSU. That year, the project involved students from business, art and theatre; this year, social work students are included, as well.  

“BATS began in conversations between faculty about our very focused majors interacting and learning from each other's disciplines,” explained Mike Mosher, professor of art/communication and multimedia and one of the SVSU faculty involved in the creation of the project. 

This year’s semester-long research project had four teams of students analyzing and addressing different community challenges: 

  • Transportation in the Saginaw area, including access and accommodations for persons with disabilities 
  • Food insecurity in Saginaw, including food deserts and temporary food assistance 
  • Abuse and neglect 
  • K-12 schools and student success 

Abigail Walk, a business management major from Saginaw, said, “This collaborative research project has taught me the importance of synthesizing information, clear deadlines and communication, the impact of a positive attitude, and being a team player to help out whenever it is needed regardless of my experience on the subject. I learned to step up even if I am not an actor, artist or a social worker.” 

Alexis T. Krzeminski, a finance major from Warren, said her team hopes to increase awareness of sensitive topics facing the community and to inspire change. 

“I was assigned the study focus area of transportation. I have learned how fortunate myself and others are to have a car but realizing that not everyone is as fortunate as us. We must be grateful for the things we take for granted." 

Students involved in the B.A.T.S. Project include business students who are part of the Vitito Global Leadership Institute, students in Mosher’s Art 433 Community Murals class, social work students in the SW316 – Social Welfare Policy I class, and students in the Theatre 336 – Intermediate Acting class.

Mosher said the project helps art students make connections between their work and the needs of the communities where their art will be displayed. 

“It's important for Art 433 Community Murals students to learn to develop and produce themes and imagery with and for other ‘neighborhoods.’ This year, the B.A.T.S. teams participated in developing painted panels for the Social Work suite in the Health and Human Services building.”

Joseph Ofori-Dankwa, the Harvey Randall Wickes Endowed Professor in the Carmona College of Business and one of the architects of the B.A.T.S. Project, said SVSU students have gained a lot of exposure to and a greater understanding of community operations through the project. 

“In the past, B.A.T.S. participants have worked with community organizations such as United Way of Saginaw County, First Ward Community Center, Pets Angels Adoption and Rescue, Autism Center of Michigan, Edgewood Assisted Living Center and the Yellow Ribbon Guard,” he said. “Work with First Ward Community Center, for example, has included helping mentor and place some young leaders from Saginaw on boards of corporations and organizations such as the Saginaw Community Foundation.” 

Associate Professor of Social Work Catherine Macomber added that the social work students worked with mentors from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at SVSU.

“These older adults have worked with the social work students to frame these policy issues in terms of impact,” Macomber said. “The OLLI mentors are able to help the social work students understand the broader implications of policies and how the reach goes well beyond the immediacy of a tax payment or a ride on a bus designed to meet the needs of persons with disabilities.  The collaboration with OLLI mentors has been an integral part of the broader understanding of policy advocacy toward social justice.”

In addition to the team presentations, the B.A.T.S. presentation program will include performances by the Saginaw High School Drumline, remarks by SVSU President Donald Bachand and Provost Deborah Huntley, and an update on the future of the B.A.T.S. Project by SVSU faculty.  

Registration is not required for this free public event. 

A list of participating students accompanies this release.