Good Trouble Academy (GTA)

John R. Lewis College offers a myriad of community-engaged leadership opportunities to train students to get into “good trouble,” or in other words, develop knowledge and skills in activism and community-engaged leadership.

The Good Trouble Academy (GTA) is a chance for students affiliated with John R. Lewis College to be honored for participating in experiential and academic opportunities relating to our college theme of Social Justice and Community. Learn more below and in this digital GTA brochure!

For JRLC affiliates graduating in the 2023-2024 academic year, you will receive an email invitation to our Good Trouble Academy Canvas Course*. All you need to do to be considered for the certificate is review the Canvas course at your own pace and submit ONE reflection in the course based on this prompt, by Sunday, May 5th, 2024. We estimate this should take 1-2 hours to complete, depending on how long it takes you to read/write your reflection. For JRLC affiliates graduating in future years, you will receive a Canvas Course invite in Fall 2024 after we revise the course and update the requirements.

*The Canvas course is still in its beta stage, and we apologize for any potential glitches or problems; as our first “testers,” we would also love any feedback you might want to provide. Please email for any questions, comments, or suggestions!

What is the GTA?

The Good Trouble Academy joins together academic class offerings across campus, co-curricular programming at College Nine and John R. Lewis College (click here for our Get Involved with C9/JRLC digital brochure), and student-initiated opportunities to support a pathway for students to become social justice change agents. The design of the academy is based on five principles distilled from the life and work of John R. Lewis. 

The five principles are as follows and you can read more about them here:

  1. Students are change makers
  2. Commitment to justice
  3. Courageous and interconnected community
  4. Empowering engagement
  5. Sustaining oneself in the struggle

The Good Trouble Academy is organized via a Canvas course to record where students opt in to specific academic and co-curricular activities that align with each of the five principles. Students will participate in an experience (class, club, internship, etc.) and then complete the reflection on the Canvas course reflecting on how the experience aligned with the principles and enlivened their own educational experience at UCSC. 

How is the GTA beneficial to me?

The GTA supports students in building the skills, networks, and knowledge they seek to enact an education that is meaningful and relevant to them, one that is driven by their purpose and passion. Because the program encourages students to undertake experiential learning, engage with others within and beyond the campus, step into leadership roles, and undertake efforts to address contemporary problems, it helps students develop skills that prepare them for life beyond the university. These skills, often referred to as “power skills” or “21st Century skills,” include things such as problem-solving, teamwork, cultural competency, and communication to broad audiences and foster academic and career success. The GTA supports students to articulate their experiences in ways that render their accomplishments and aptitudes legible on the job market or the pursuit of graduate school.

You also receive the following . . .  

  • The Good Trouble Academy completion certificate
  • A JRLC stole for your commencement ceremony
  • A letter of recommendation/achievement that will detail your involvement that is signed by our Provost, Senior Director, and other campus partners
  • Your name is added to our website of honors

What are the criteria?

We think it is imperative for our students to have both the experiential and the theoretical foundation of the knowledge, skills, and abilities that relate to the five pillars (or values) of our theme: Social Justice and Community. 

In order to meet the minimum requirements of our Good Trouble Academy Certificate, you must complete the following:

First-Year Students (beginning Fall 2023 and beyond):

  • One experiential opportunity from this list for each pillar*
  • One academic opportunity from this list for each pillar*
  • One reflection for each of the five pillars

Transfer Students (and First-Year Students who began before Spring 2023):

  • A mix of experiential opportunities and academic opportunities that meet each pillar (a total of five opportunities, with at least one per pillar)*
  • One reflection for each of the five pillars

* Please note that these lists are meant to be a guide and do not cover all possible opportunities. They suggest what pillars a few specific opportunities may fit under, but it is ultimately open to your interpretation if you believe something would qualify for the GTA and connect to the five pillars. Categorize your opportunities based on what you take away from the experience and connect them to the pillar(s) you think best represents them. This means that while a class may be on a specific topic that leans more towards one pillar, perhaps you made a stronger connection to a different pillar and may choose to place that academic opportunity under both or a singular pillar. Additionally, it is okay if one opportunity counts for multiple pillars, as long as you’re able to connect that opportunity to each of the selected pillars.

What are the steps?

  1. Read through each pillar
  2. Engage with the optional other articles or videos within each pillar
  3. Submit reflection on the “Submit Pillar” tab
    1. Identify which experiential opportunity and academic opportunity you completed for this pillar and when (quarter/year)
    2. This must include a summary reflection on what this pillar means to you and any corresponding questions that are within each pillar

How long does the GTA take?

The GTA is at your own pace, so no matter when you start, you will have the opportunity to take advantage of the myriad of experiential learning opportunities and academic coursework that are associated with the theme of Social Justice and Community.

Do whatever works best for you! Perhaps you may spread these opportunities over the course of your entire academic career, or dive deep and immerse yourself in your involvement over a single year, to complete the GTA.

We anticipate that it should only take a few hours max to complete the Canvas submission process, depending on the time you need for your reflection. Just think: an hour or so of your time to reflect on your involvements gives you a lifetime of skills, knowledge, and ability to highlight for graduate school, your career, and your future as a leader in your community, family, or place of work!

How can I do this?

Here are some examples (more coming soon) of how you can take advantage of the Good Trouble Academy:


For questions or more information, please email