John R Lewis College

College Office
217 Social Sciences 1
(831) 459-5034

Academic Programs

Academic Literacy Curriculum

Formerly known as College Ten, the college was dedicated as John R Lewis College on May 6, 2022, a naming that was made possible by the generosity of anonymous donors who are inspired by the life and legacy of the Civil Rights Leader and member of Congress. All of us at John R. Lewis College are humbled by this honor, and committed to continuing, deepening, and strengthening our efforts toward our theme of social justice and community.

Academic Emphasis

John R Lewis College’s theme of Social Justice and Community addresses a range of social problems and their impacts on society. Understanding the contemporary United States, for instance, requires social and historical frameworks that address concepts like racialized and gendered social hierarchies, the construction of marginalization and difference, the impacts of class differences, and many manifestations of unequal power relationships. A flourishing society that progresses toward social and environmental justice depends on informed, critical, and empathetic people willing to make the efforts necessary to create social change. At John R Lewis College, we strive toward the goals of analyzing, embodying, and implementing ideas that help our students become knowledgeable and critical social actors who recognize and practice the principle that all people possess equal intrinsic worth. Our academic and co-curricular programs consider the injustices that many people confront in their lives, and possible policies for overcoming  social, political, and economic inequalities. In addition, the college provides students with opportunities to make their own positive contributions to social change through community involvement and/or scholarly research.


All new frosh and transfer students who start fall quarter are required to enroll in one of two online orientation courses. Frosh will enroll in JRLC 1A, John R. Lewis College 1A: Introduction to University Life and Learning. Transfer students will enroll in KRSG 1T, Kresge 1T: Introduction to Research Universities and the Liberal Arts. JRLC 1A and KRSG 1T integrate introductions to academic skills with the online Slug Orientation process, and begin student preparation for their studies at  John R Lewis College and throughout UC Santa Cruz.

JRLC 1A  Introduction to University Life and Learning (1 credit)

Offered online in summer quarter

KRSG 1T  Introduction to Research Universities and the Liberal Arts (1 credit)

Offered online in summer quarter

Core Course

JRLC 1: Academic Literacy and Ethos: Social Justice and Community

Offered in fall quarter

First-year students examine current issues pertinent to the college’s intellectual theme. The core curriculum explores the causes and consequences of social injustice in several ways. Students examine the roots of prejudice, discrimination, and violence directed toward groups based on their ethnicity, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, religious practices, or political views. They also consider the causes and consequences of economic inequality both within the United States and around the world. In addition to articulation with the college theme, the core seminar teaches foundational concepts for intellectual exploration and personal development within an academic community—analysis, critical thinking, metacognition, engagement with others across difference, and self-efficacy. The instructors work closely with each student throughout the quarter.

College Advising

Contact information: 
Phone: 831-459-5034
Social Sciences 1, Room 217

Located on the second floor of Social Sciences 1, our team of dedicated, knowledgeable and caring advisors is here to guide students throughout their journey at UC Santa Cruz, from admission to the university through graduation. Our approach is collaborative and student-centered, assisting undergraduates with identifying and exploring their academic interests and capacities, and providing advice as to how to make the most of their time at UCSC. Our advisors answer questions about navigating the policies and life at UC Santa Cruz, course scheduling and selection, degree and general education requirements, qualifying for a major, educational support and opportunities, and much more. Close partnerships with units across campus mean that if we do not know the answer to a question, we usually know someone who does. 

Students who wish to connect with Advising should visit the John R Lewis College Academic Advising website for open hours, drop-ins, and appointments.

Other Academic Programs

Optional programs are available to involve John R Lewis College students in academic and co-curricular activities beyond the first-quarter core course. They are designed to promote students’ academic achievement and success by connecting them with faculty mentors and helping them pursue leadership experiences and experiential learning opportunities.

Social Justice Issues Workshop

Social Justice Issues Workshop is a two-credit course, taught by student facilitators that meets once per week and can be taken in addition to a regular 15-credit academic load. The workshop offers a small, dynamic learning community in which members explore important issues of personal and cultural identity; social, political, and environmental concerns; and community-mindedness. The class emphasizes small-group experiential learning through structured exercises and group activities, and also includes discussions, film presentations, and guest speakers. Mentoring by our experienced staff is vital to realizing the potential of such peer-to-peer learning.

Apprenticeship in Community Engaged Research

The Apprenticeship in Community Engaged Research (or (H)ACER) is a new program at College Nine and John R Lewis College designed to teach students qualitative research methods with a focus on community-engaged and participatory methodologies. The objectives of our work encompass student enrichment, uplifting the work of our community partners, and conducting relevant, critical research to solve real-life challenges at the intersections of education, health, economics, immigration, nutrition, labor and the environment. The benefits for students of experiential learning in the community are multiple: abstract academic concepts become more tangible, students expand their web of social connection, and skills such as teamwork and problem solving are heightened. Students reach outside of their comfort zone, have their assumptions challenged, and meet remarkable local heroes.

(H)ACER offers a scaffolded progression of opportunities for students: students can begin by getting involved with Praxis, participating in Alternative Spring Break, or signing up for internships with community partners such as an after-school, garden-based educational program at Calabasas Elementary School in Watsonville. Praxis is a student club for community service in which College Nine and John R Lewis College students undertake monthly volunteer opportunities throughout Santa Cruz County and neighboring communities. During campus meetings, Praxis participants engage in discussion, reading, and reflection to increase their awareness and knowledge about key issues.

Alternative Spring Break (ASB) in Watsonville centers on issues of food security, sovereignty, and justice. After getting to know each other at a retreat, discussing readings, and hearing from a panel of Watsonville leaders, ASB participants undertake five days of experiential learning with a variety of community partners (e.g., schools, artists, non-profits). After Spring Break, a final gathering is held for students to share their final projects.

Practical Activism: Tools for Local and Global Change

The annual Practical Activism Conference is a day-long, student-led event featuring keynote speakers, multiple workshops, tabling by on-and off-campus organizations, performances, and a variety of hands-on activism activities. Students gain valuable leadership and organizing skills through developing and planning this exceptional program, which involves collaboration among faculty, staff, and the local community. Visit Practical Activism for more information.

Community Garden Class

In cooperation with the work of the Community Garden Club, this course explores such topics as collaborative garden design, community gardening best practices, building regenerative social and ecological systems, sustainability, and food justice, while also offering hands-on experience in the Colleges Nine and Ten community garden.

College Scholars Program

John R. Lewis College participates in the UC Santa Cruz College Scholars Program (CSP), a stimulating home for highly motivated students to have community with like-minded peers during their first and second years as they explore research at a research university. The program recruits and supports a diverse cohort of college scholars across all five academic divisions and all 10 colleges who show potential to cultivate academic and non-academic strengths in a learning community. Between 20 and 25 students are housed in close proximity in each college and together participate in an enriched program of study designed to prepare them to take advantage of opportunities for undergraduate research at the upper division. Across four quarters, students have access to supplementary activities, special courses, small seminars, and a faculty research colloquium to explore what questions drive researchers and what forms research can take. To facilitate participation in these program requirements, CSP students receive priority enrollment during their time in the program.

John R Lewis College Pathways to Distinction

Students are recognized with John R Lewis College Distinction upon successful completion of three quarters (approximately 15 credits) of research experiences, coursework, service and leadership and/or writing intensive courses focused on social justice and community themes. Applicable John R Lewis College courses, service opportunities and research opportunities with faculty can fulfill the criteria for distinction. This recognition is intended to serve as an incentive for students to pursue activities that help them succeed in college and beyond related to the theme of social justice and community.