Have I ever told you guys I’m a huge nerd? Well…today you’re going to get irrefutable proof of that, if you didn’t believe me already.
- RL.9-10.7. Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment (e.g., Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts” and Breughel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus).
Learning Target: Students will examine the Prime Directive from Star Trek: Voyager and the United Nations Charter, looking for similarities between fiction and reality.
Welcome to Thursday! Since we finished Animal Farm yesterday, I want to start off today by asking you guys a little question. As conditions on Animal Farm became worse and worse, did you ever feel like someone from the outside should step in and try to help the animals who were being tortured and killed by Napoleon? Considering these things are based on real-world events, do you think there’s a point where one country should go help the people in another country, when they’re being ruled by a tyrant dictator? If there’s a point when someone should step in and help, what is that point?
Remember I told you guys that was our essential question for the unit?
Well, today we’re going to look at one potential answer to that question: Never. Do I have any Trekkies in here? I adore Star Trek: Voyager, and today we’re going to watch an episode called “Time and Again.” This episode centers around something called The Prime Directive, which, simply put, states that we should never interfere with the natural course of another civilization, especially one that hasn’t achieved space travel yet, and we should always leave them to their own devices, even if it means they will destroy themselves. Let’s check out how the crew of Voyager handle that in this episode!
As you watch, I’ve got some questions for you to answer!
Part I: Directions: Answer the following questions as you watch “Star Trek: Voyager: Time and Again”
- Captain Janeway lectures Paris on the importance of something called “The Prime Directive.” Based on their conversation, what do you think the Prime Directive is?
- Janeway is not the type of captain to give stern orders to her crew. Why is she so insistent that Paris not warn the people their planet is about to be destroyed? What does that insistence say about the Prime Directive and its importance?
- At the end of the episode, after Janeway has corrected the timeline and prevented the people from destroying themselves, Janeway says to Neelix that the Federation has a policy of never interfering with other societies, especially ones that have not yet learned how to travel through space (“pre-warp civilizations”). Neelix says that is a good policy. Why do you think Neelix agrees with the Federation policy?
Part II: Directions: Read the following text of the Prime Directive, paying particular attention to the portion in bold. Compare it to the text from the United Nations Charter. Then, answer the questions that follow.
From the Prime Directive (Star Trek):
Nothing within these Articles Of Federation shall authorize the United Federation of Planets to intervene in matters which are essentially the domestic jurisdiction of any planetary social system, or shall require the members to submit such matters to settlement under these Articles Of Federation. But this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII.
As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Star Fleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes introducing superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Star Fleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship, unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation.
From the United Nations Charter (reality):
Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter Vll.
- In your own words, explain what the Prime Directive means:
- Why do you think the text of the Prime Directive is so similar to the text of the United Nations charter?
- Why do you think the United Nations chose to include this rule in the charter? Think of an example in reality where a country should not interfere with another country.
Part III: Directions: Answer the following questions. Each answer should be about a paragraph long.
- Captain Janeway believes that the Prime Directive is the most important thing for her crew to uphold. Knowing that she believes the Prime Directive is the most important thing, do you feel that this justifies her lying, stealing, and threatening people, as she does when she and Paris accidentally go back in time?
- Janeway and Paris argue over whether or not they should save the planet by warning the people about what is going to happen. What do you feel is the right answer in this situation? Is the complete destruction of all life on a planet a good enough reason to violate the Prime Directive (Paris is right), or do you feel that they should never intervene in the matters of another planet (Janeway is right)?
- If you said Paris is right, think of a real life example where one country should have or did intervene with another country, and explain why this was the right decision.
If you said Janeway is right, think of a real life example when a country did intervene with another, but should not have done so. Explain why the country should never have interfered and why doing so was wrong.
Differentiation: Learning style – video for visual learners; Content – Star Trek to relate to student interests
Assessment: Questions will be graded