The upcoming Star Trek: Starfleet Academy series can achieve something that Star Trek: Discovery has failed to do. Although the exact timeline of Starfleet Academy is still to be confirmed, the new show’s press release states that: “For the first time in over a century, our campus will be re-opened“, which indicates that the series will be set in Discovery‘s 32nd century. It will potentially also feature Lt. Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) as one of the instructors, after she joined the new Starfleet Academy in Discovery season 4.
This setting will allow Alex Kurtzman and Noga Landau, the co-showrunners of Paramount+’s Star Trek: Starfleet Academy to further reveal what the far future of the Star Trek universe looks like. It was hoped that Discovery would do this once the USS Discovery arrived in the 32nd century, but the show’s long-form season arcs have considerably narrowed the show’s focus to dealing with galactic crises. Now, Starfleet Academy can properly expand upon Star Trek‘s 32nd century as the educational institution becomes a hub for the diverse species and races that inhabit it.
Starfleet Academy Can Widen Discovery’s 32nd Century
Although Starfleet Academy cadets get field commissions, it’s likely that exploration won’t be the main driver of Star Trek: Starfleet Academy. This doesn’t need to limit the scope of stories the show could tell about the 32nd century, however. By its very nature, Starfleet Academy is an educational establishment and so could fill in the necessary gaps in Star Trek mythology in the seven centuries between Star Trek: Picard‘s 25th century and Star Trek: Discovery‘s 32nd century via its lesson plans.
With a cast of young students who have come of age in the 32nd Century, Star Trek: Starfleet Academy‘s characters will be better placed to shed new light on the 3100s than the temporally transplanted crew of the USS Discovery. Aside from First Contact with Species 10-C, Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) hasn’t met many completely new alien species in Star Trek: Discovery. However, as the new show is set in an institution that accepts applications from across the Federation, Starfleet Academy can introduce new Star Trek species into canon via the new cadets. The students’ life experiences and backstories can also provide a fascinating insight into life in the 32nd century.
Starfleet Academy Can Be The Discovery Era’s DS9
Presumably, Star Trek: Starfleet Academy will largely take place within the confines of the titular campus, meaning the show would be without a starship, similar to how Star Trek: Deep Space Nine started. As DS9 proved, this was never a barrier to storytelling that stayed true to Star Trek‘s core ideals, as the visitors to the station would bring their own cultures to the station when in previous Trek shows the crew would seek them out. The same could be true of Starfleet Academy as the young cadets of the 32nd century and their visiting tutors bring something of their own culture to each episode.
Like Deep Space Nine before it, this new Starfleet Academy will be a cultural hub that has a diverse range of visitors from across the Federation. This intense mixture of diverse alien cultures could provide some fascinating character conflicts throughout Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, especially when youthful ego is also added into the mix. Instructors like Sylvia Tilly will likely be required to step in and mediate these disputes, helping the young cadets to find common ground, shaping them into the next generation of Starfleet Officers. This would be the perfect format for both the characters and the audience to learn more about the cultures that make up Star Trek‘s 32nd century.