University offers course in Star Trek

A university in Decatur, Illinois, is offering a course in Star Trek, the long-running series of television shows and movies. Called The Multidisciplinary Worlds of Star Trek, the full-credit course will be taught at Millikin University by Dr. Michael O'Conner during the school's winter break. William Shatner starred as James Kirk in the original 'Star Trek' series. (AP photo)
"This class will boldly go where no one has gone before, as we explore the lore, politics, philosophy, groundbreaking multiculturalism and historical contexts of the popular science fiction series and phenomenon known as Star Trek," the school's course calendar boasts. "It's a way to discuss a lot of academic topics using Star Trek as a focus or a lens," O'Conner told the Herald & Review, a local paper. "It's going to be great fun, I think." Star Trek first aired on TV in 1966. The original series starred Montreal's William Shatner as James T. Kirk, captain of the starship Enterprise.

It has since turned into one of the most enduring entertainment properties, spawning an additional five shows, including a short-lived cartoon series and Enterprise, which currently airs on UPN in the U.S. and the CHUM family of stations in Canada. There have also been 10 Star Trek feature films.

The homework assignments for students in O'Conner's course will be to watch selected episodes from the various shows.

He plans to use them as a bellwether for discussing changes in American society. In the original series, for example, female crewmembers wore skimpy skirts as uniforms. By contrast, the Voyager series debuted in 1995 with a female starship captain played by Kate Mulgrew.

Another topic for class discussion will be the "prime directive," the rule dictating that Starfleet officers must not interfere in the development of alien cultures.

O'Conner will bring up Kirk's constant violations of the prime directive, in addition to relating the concept to current U.S. foreign policy.

Source: CBC News Online