Dr. Tanja Link Helps with KSU Students' Interdisciplinary Project Engaging Incarcerated Youths in Storytelling

KENNESAW, Ga. (Aug 2, 2023)Dramatic reading of selections from the play version “Long Way Down” by Jason ReynoldsWhen Zy Justice arrived at Kennesaw State University in Fall 2018, she knew she wanted to major in criminal justice. She didn’t expect her studies to include training in acting.

Nonetheless, Justice recently sat in a black-walled room with a mixed group of theatre and criminal justice majors participating in a dramatic reading of selections from the play version “Long Way Down” by Jason Reynolds, a novel about the code of vengeance governing the streets where the main character lives. 

Justice and her classmates are involved in the New Connections Collision Project — inspired by the Alliance Theatre’s Palefsky Collision Project — as part of a class called Applied Theater in Community. Senior lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies Margaret Pendergrass and her long-time collaborator, Alliance Theatre artist Rodney Lamar Williams, came up with the project four years ago when asked to develop a theater program for youth in the care of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).  

Pendergrass said associate professor of criminal justice Tanja Link played a critical role in solidifying the connection between the TPS department and the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice. Link helped students from her department prepare for the outreach aspect of the project and offered the idea of bringing KSU students and DJJ students together for a transformative experience.

“I serve as a co-project manager and academic advisor, helping grow a sustainable and scalable structure for the initiative,” said Link, also the assistant chair in sociology and criminal justice. “I was lucky enough to join Margaret a few years back and contribute the idea of bringing the two groups of young people together.”

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