Smithsonian-Designed Online Course ‘Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology’ Launches

Today a new adult learning platform launched, with its debut course being all about Star Trek. The new “Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology” course celebrates the surprising cultural and technological impact of Star Trek, and was designed by the Smithsonian Institution in coordination with CBS Consumer Products.

The Star Trek course is part of the new Learning for a Small World, an interactive, community-based learning platform being launched by NetDragon, one of the largest Chinese gaming companies which has been expanding into education in recent years. The six-week Star Trek course will give users a multimedia learning experience that will sharpen their understanding of the Star Trek franchise and its lasting, global impact.

The online course is co-taught by Dr. Margaret Weitekamp, a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and Scott Mantz, formerly of Access Hollywood.  It features artifacts on display in Washington DC, behind-the-scenes looks at Smithsonian collections, and a range of experts from the Smithsonian Institution, academia, and the scientific community.  “This online course offers a great way to experience the National Air and Space Museum’s approach to artifacts and history from the comfort of your own home,” said Weitekamp in a statement. “It’s a wonderful example of the Smithsonian Institution’s commitment to reaching beyond the walls of our museums to educate and inspire.”

The course will also feature Star Trek celebrities like Michael Dorn, Robert Picardo, Walter Koenig, and more, all of whom can be seen in the launch trailer below.

Here is the official course synopsis:

Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology” will explore the futuristic technology and social issues that remain top of mind today: runaway artificial intelligence, eugenics, discrimination and racial tensions, and even examinations of the nature of perception and what it means to be human. The course takes a deep look at how the show, and its fans, both reflected the times and foreshadowed scientific achievements we take for granted and the cultural challenges we face today.

NetDragon inspired by Star Trek

Net Dragon’s new platform is designed to deliver learning experiences in a non-traditional manner. Courses will allow users to experience learning variety of ways, from video and audio to text and live interviews–learning on demand, any time, any place. Later this fall, Learning for a Small World will offer additional courses that will tackle difficult subjects such as fake news, genomics, and the phenomenon of eSports.

Also making an appearance in the Star Trek course will be Mr. Dejian Liu,  founder and chairman of the board of NetDragon. He talks about the impact Star Trek had on him personally, inspiring him to have a successful career in technology. Liu’s love for Star Trek can be seen clearly by just looking at the design of Net Dragon headquarters building in Fuijan, China, which he had built in the shape of the Starship Enterprise.

NetDragon headquarters in China

NetDragon headquarters in China

Star Trek course available now

The six-week “Star Trek: Influencing Science and Culture” course is comprised of seven sections and is estimated to take three hours. Those who participate in the community and complete the course will receive an exclusive personalized digital course patch. The cost for the course is $19.95. There is also a special launch promotion for the first thousand fans to get the course for just $4.95 using the promo code “TOBOLDLYGO.”

To learn more about “Star Trek: Influencing Science and Culture” and Learning for a Small World, visit

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Can I get college credit for this?

The building looks more like Voyager, but cool none the less.

I have seen that building before in other articles. Very cool. And I agree with ML31, it looks more like Voyager.

The launch promotion only seems to work for Americans, unfortunately. It gives you an error if you are not in a recognized “tax area”.

If you just put any US zip code in when you register, it works. Im in the UK and put 10001 (New York) in the zip code box, and it all worked splendidly

Ah, thank you! I will do that.

The promo code must be entered in all CAPS. Otherwise, it will not work.

Great… The Smithsonian and CBS are offering a course through a closely monitored Chinese Company. I know I want to provide all my deets and credit card info to our Chinese overlords to make the profiling job of their evil Empire easier!

The Chinese will be running America in a few years. Right after the Russians are finished running America into the ground.

Doesn’t seem to work for people outside the U.S.