logo: Learning for a small world

Learn how Star Trek and its fans changed the world

We are the reason Star Trek became a cultural phenomenon! We gave fandom a new meaning. Together we explored the meaning of humanity and encouraged the world to embrace cultural, racial and gender diversity.

Henry Jenkins

If we look at shows that develop strong fan followings, one of the things we find is they have strong themes of friendship or community. Star Trek does both. We have either the great friendship between Kirk and Spock, or the triumvirate of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Their friendships are more passionate than everyday life. People were fascinated with the relationships between those characters.

Media Scholar, University of Southern California

Science fiction dreams the dream, and then science goes out and tries to accomplish it. And that’s true whether it's a technology that Star Trek dreamed up or some other. We were able to create, and our creations were able to influence the direction and form things took, because of all of those brilliant young minds who watched the show and decided to become engineers or software designers.

Robert Picardo

“The Doctor"

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Learningforasmallworld is a global open community, a new team, seeking to understand the world we inhabit. We rely upon experts, upon science, and upon our community's critical thinking skills. We strive to understand an increasingly complex personal, social, and scientific landscape. We are an experiment in lifelong learning.

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We redefined “alien”

Together we explored the meaning of humanity and encouraged the world to embrace cultural, racial and gender diversity.

We laid the foundation for technology that surrounds us today such as mobile phones, artificial intelligence and wireless technologies.

We delivered a vision of progress

We inspired a generation of like-minded scientists and inventors to dream differently, and strive to deliver the Star Trek vision of a better world, a better universe.

We inspired

Star Trek course - by fans, for fans

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TM & © 2018 CBS Studios Inc. © 2018 Paramount Pictures Corp. All Rights Reserved.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration does not endorse this course nor is NASA’s endorsement implied through the use of its images or videos within the course.

Image 159587867 supplied by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

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Why Star Trek?

Explore how Star Trek offers a powerful lens for media scholars analyzing the history of television, the impact of science fiction on technology, and the phenomenon of fandom.

Learn how Star Trek depicted a future where humans were explorers of the universe—serving as an inspiration to individuals and government agencies deeply involved in the race to get human beings into space for the first time.

What does it mean to be explorers?

What is Alien?

Understand how Star Trek’s aliens prompted audiences to reconsider their own perceptions of different races, languages, and genders.

What does it mean to be part of a culture?

Reflect on how Star Trek depicted various characters working to understand themselves and their place in the universe, navigating their own intersectionality and difficult cultural histories.

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What is the Frontier?

Consider how Star Trek changed its visions of frontier worlds to reflect contemporary shifts in understanding about how expansion affected native peoples and cultures.

What does it mean to be Human?

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Recognize how Star Trek inspires reflection on our own humanity and our place in the universe.

Course Content

Back in the 1960s, it was a very turbulent world, much as it is today. The popular media were full of very dark stories. The news was indeed very dark. And along comes this show called Star Trek and it says we humans can and will grow up. We can be smart We can be compassionate. We can reach for a better tomorrow.

Michael Okuda

Lead Graphic Designer, Star Trek