CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will mark the 50th anniversary of the seminal science fiction television series, “Star Trek,” with a number of events as well as a class dedicated to the original show.
Spawning countless films, series, spoofs, conventions and memes, Star Trek is known for its combination of philosophy, technology and social justice.
Joseph Orosco, an associate professor of philosophy, is teaching an undergraduate class during Fall term titled “Star Trek and Philosophy,” which will help students examine issues of politics, ethics and social justice raised in the original series. There are currently 50 students enrolled in the course.
“We're going to watch and critically discuss episodes of Star Trek as morality tales, highlighting classic philosophical problems,” Orosco said. “Some of the questions we’ll examine include, ‘How can we tell reality from illusion? What is the nature of human happiness? Can war ever be moral?’ ”
On Oct. 11, Randall Milstein, an instructor in the OSU Honors College and College of Science, will give a public lecture on the cultural and technological impact the series has had on society and every day life. “The Cultural and Technological Impact of Star Trek” will take place from 4-5 p.m. in the Learning Innovation Center, Room 368.
Another public lecture will take place at 4 p.m., Oct. 20, on “Star Trek and Social Justice,” in Milam Hall, Room 319. Christina Allaback, the artistic director for the Eugene-based Trek Theater, will explain the origins of Trek Theater, how she sees it embracing the lessons of the theater of the oppressed, and what we can learn about social justice from science fiction.
Also on Oct. 20, Trek Theatre will perform the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode of “The Drumhead” at 7 p.m. in the Learning Innovation Center, Room 228. This classic episode is a story about the clash between state security and the protection of human rights. A costume reception will precede the performance, starting at 6 p.m. Attendees are invited to wear Star Trek themed costumes and prizes will be awarded to several participants.
At noon Nov. 10, Navaho (Dine) artist Ryan Singer and hip hop artist/writer Joel South will discuss their work as Native artists and fans of science fiction during a celebration of indigenous science fiction and Star Trek. Grace Dillon, a professor in the Indigenous Nations Studies Program at Portland State University and a scholar of the genre of indigenous science fiction, will also participate. The event will be held at the Native American Longhouse Eena Haws, 311 S.W. 26th St.
All of the events are free and open to the public. The Star Trek celebration is sponsored by the Anarres Project, a program based out of the OSU School of History, Philosophy and Religion. It is a forum for conversations, ideas, and initiatives promoting a future free of oppression, war, and empire, inspired by the speculative fiction of Oregon writer Ursula K. Le Guin.
The events are also part of the 2016-17 SPARK program, the university’s year-long celebration of the arts and sciences.