To Boldly Think?: The Philosophical Conundrums of Star Trek

Mondays from 5–7:30 p.m.
The Loft Cinema
Class size
96 students

Science fiction at its best confronts us with situations so new and outside our ordinary ways of thinking about the world that it is a natural source of puzzlement and questioning. In this course, we will wrangle with a range of philosophical questions prompted by both classic and recent stories from Star Trek. Can artificial beings (like Data, or Voyager’s Doctor) really count as people in the same way that biological beings (like humans, Vulcans, and Klingons) are? When Riker gets split in a transporter accident, which of the two resulting people – or neither – is really Riker? When Picard is assimilated into the Borg as Locutus, is he still also Picard? Is Kirk right to insist that he – that we – need pain and struggle in our lives? And is Spock right to claim that “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”? Join us to discuss these philosophical queries and more!

Course Details


Each 2.5-hour class will incorporate episode viewings, lecture, and group discussion.

Readings and Syllabus

A finalized syllabus and more information about how and where to access any reading assignments will be available prior to the beginning of the course, per instructors’ directions.


Refund policy

Refunds are available when requested before 4 p.m. on Tuesday, October 2, 2018. A $25 administrative fee will apply.


Location Details
The class meets at The Loft Cinema, Screen 3. Screen 3 is fully accessible and has a Hearing Loop Induction service.

The Loft Cinema features several dedicated parking lots just next to the building, with parking available at no cost.