Star Trek Major Warps into Bozeman

This coming semester, MSU will be offering a highly anticipated and controversial new major: philosophy of Star Trek. “We’re going to be covering all the bases: The ethics of the Dominion War, the parallels between Khan Noonien Singh and Richard Nixon, how to apply our knowledge of the Q continuum to better understand the god of Abrahamic religions … Just the basic stuff,” said Walter Gibb, one of the degree instructors who played a major role in getting the program started.

“Years from now, people will look back and realize how Star Trek really set a precedent for mankind’s journey further into space. It is very exciting that MSU will be on the leading edge of that trend,” he added. “Besides, it is only fitting, since Bozeman is where the Vulcans made first contact with humans in Star Trek — I like to see this as fiction blurring with reality.”

Among the 18 new courses being offered, a few include: History of SciFi Cinema, Literary Study: The Works of Roddenberry, and Klingon: from Kortar to K’mpec. Currently Gibb and Lisa Linkletter, a long time friend and professor in the noetics department, are the only faculty attached to the new major. “We have already had 400 students enroll in the major. We are having trouble finding enough faculty to keep up,” Linkletter said. “So that’s where our focus will continue to be. Hopefully more individuals like Walter will step up to the plate.”

The idea for the new major came about in 2014 when Linkletter emailed Gibb after reading an article about a new Star Trek oriented philosophy course being offered by Georgetown University in D.C.

“I was reading the news and I saw the article. I thought it was very neat, and then I thought, why stop there? Why not turn it into a degree?” Linkletter said. “That idea became a driving obsession and I knew Walter was the man I needed to make this happen.”

At the time, Gibb had taken on a position teaching psychology at Port Chester University, but felt compelled to return to Bozeman as he and Linkletter exchanged emails. After a week of preparation the two pitched their idea to administration, who unanimously agreed to instate the new degree program after hearing Linkletter and Gibb’s two-minute presentation. “Everyone has been very supportive,” Linkletter said.

However, some faculty members have expressed doubts. “Do the students really need a Star Trek major? It’s patently absurd. What kind of career could you possibly find with that sort of degree?” argued Danielle Braun, a professor in the phrenology department. “Anybody who graduates from this major will have no future — Heinlein was right when he said specialization is for insects.”

Linkletter and Gibb have chosen to brush such criticisms aside and focus on the coming semester. For Gibb the new major is more than a job, it is a chance to help people understand the deep nuances of Star Trek. He himself credits the late Leonard Nimoy’s book “I am Spock” for helping him turn his life around when he was going through a hard time.

“I used to be in a punk rock band in Belgrade. We were always raging against the machine and whatnot. I never thought much of it until we got thrown in jail for inciting a riot,” Gibb said. “It was that night that I realized that the anarchist thing wasn’t working for me; I needed structure. While I was sitting in jail, a guard got tired of me complaining and he loaned me his copy of “I am Spock” and I read it in one sitting. It was as if Leonard was speaking to me … It truly was a numinal experience. I quit the band the next day.”

Since then Gibb has sought to mold young minds, and he sees the philosophy of Star Trek major as the ultimate chance for him to achieve his life’s work as an educator.

“I am just excited to have the opportunity to share just how much insight Star Trek can offer in our own lives and those around us. It’s frankly quite astonishing,” Gibb said. “Star Trek changed my life for the better; it’s not just a tv show, it’s a way of life.”

“Editors note: this article appeared in the March 26, 2015 edition of the Exponent, the “Excrement”. The edition is the annual April Fool’s edition of the paper. All articles are satire. For questions and comments please contact editor@exponent.montana.edu or (406)994-2224.”