Class Photo - from "Storm of the Century" by JD Hancock (Flickr)Whichever side of the Force you call home, Saylor Academy has great courses for grizzled veterans of the rebellion and young conscripts alike, as well as for citizens who would just like to better understand the political, social, and economic landscape of the galaxy.

Although we don’t offer technical courses on lightsaber repair, elementary hyperdrive theory, or AT-AT crew qualification, we have gathered some recommendations below from the currently-available catalog. We have indicated which group(s) a course might most appeal to – Jedi (J), Rebels (R), and/or Imperials (I) – although any student would be wise to study broadly, with an eye toward understanding both allies and adversaries.

PSYCH101: Introduction to Psychology (R, I)
We don’t have to agree with an adversary to be able to understand what makes them tick. Why would a Rebel risk everything, even implicating regular citizens on politically friendly or non-aligned worlds, in their desperate cause? Why would an Imperial consecrate their life and happiness to the whims of a uncharismatic Emperor and his sidekick with a wooden personality and awful human resources management skills? What drives the Jedi to forge a solitary path, even in the service of collective socio-political aims? This course will help non-Jedi to understand themselves better, while offering crucial insight into the minds and motives of others.

PHIL304: Existentialism (J, R)
Whether you are contemplating the rationale for ongoing resistance to the Galactic Empire in the face of almost certain destruction, or just considering the place and value of the individual in the larger universe, Existentialism offers the comfort of philosophy to those for whom existence itself is at best a quandary and, at worst, a daily roll of the dice.

CS405: Artificial Intelligence (J)
The solitary Jedi knows better than anyone else the value of a great droid companion – they alleviate boredom; share the workload of piloting, navigation, and maintenance; enable direct communication with both life-forms and computers across huge language barriers, and can even serve at long range as agents and diplomats. While the Empire and even the Rebel Alliance have no shortage of droid techs, the Jedi often faces the need to service droids in the field with no techs or parts shops in sight.

HIST362: Modern Revolutions (R, I)
Were the Rebel Alliance hyper-localized or limited to playing a single tune, it might be dismissed as a mere rebellion, but its staying power and the apparent appeal of its message to citizens throughout the Galaxy is undeniable. The informed Imperial and the Rebel commander alike will want to better understand what drives revolutions and what differences can be observed between those that succeed and those that fail.

POLSC402: Global Justice (J, R)
Understanding the types and natures of injustices inflicted by the Empire upon worlds throughout the galaxy will help the interested Rebel to better empathize with all the members of the Alliance, who may not share precisely the same political goals but who nevertheless have many grievances in common. Not only will focusing on these mutually-felt injustices help to maintain political and social cohesion in the hoped-for new Republic, it will enable better and more effective recruiting for the perpetually thin ranks of the Rebel forces.

PRSM107: Crisis Communication (R, I)
Whether you need to explain the destruction of yet another “Death Star” Imperial Orbital Battle Station or the unexpected and debilitating evacuation of the Hoth Gamma Base, this course provides the essential tools to anticipate crisis and get out in front of an emerging story before it spirals out of control.

POLSC401: Ethics and Public Policy (R, I)
Whether you are a beleagured imperial bureaucrat or a member of the Rebel Alliance looking forward to rebuilding or influencing structures of governance post-conflict, this course will help you to understand the role and requirements of formulating and promulgating good public policy.

CS406: Information Security (R, I)
It’s hard enough to hide a base, a fleet, or a battle station without “loose lips” giving away all the juicy details to any eavesdropping smuggler with a debt to retire. Will your organization be protected if a droid gains direct access to your mainframe computers? Are your couriers taking necessary precautions, compartmentalizing access through tough encryption that prevents any unauthorized access? Human resources aside, victory may well come to the side with the better security protocols.

ECON307: International Trade (R, I)
If the trade federation helped get the galaxy into this mess, inter-world and pan-galactic trade can also help get everyone out of it. Trade can be wielded, certainly, for narrow political ends. Done well, however, it can also enrich all parties to the exchange and support stable economic prosperity, which in turn can have a salutary effect on health, happiness, and other indices of socio-political good. Whether you are a trade official, a military governor, an independent merchant, or even a gray-market privateer, this course can help you understand trade on a large scale and influence your thinking on what constitutes good policy.

PRDV005: Time and Stress Management (R, I)
Ask any Rebel or Imperial and they will tell you that they have no time to relax and even less time to get the important stuff done – and not all of us can just pop off to Dagoba for weeks at a time to get in touch with our inner selves! This course is not a magical solution, but it will help to reveal ways that all but the busiest individuals can squeeze more out of their schedule while finding time to manage and even alleviate stress.

BUS203: Principles of Marketing (I)
Let’s be honest: if the massive resources of the Empire allow them to dominate in advertising, it the Rebel Alliance that is winning the social media and word-of-mouth “war”. It isn’t the that Empire’s products and services are lacking; indeed, a quick check of a features list shows that, for most customers, the Empire offers a strong solution. The Empire, however, has so far failed to adapt its offering to adequately serve all the customers on worlds where it holds a monopoly advantage, and it has allowed its brand to become tarnished. Into this void, the Alliance has inserted a truly compelling underdog story that has gone truly viral. While great marketing ultimately relies upon solid offerings, an Empire that is committed to serving 100% of its customer base can begin now by finding and telling a good story, creating brand-fans who will spread the word, inspire loyalty, and drive demand.

BUS205: Business Law (R, I)
Whether you want to understand some of the roots of the current conflict in the machinations of the Trade Federation, support stable local economic structures on your homeworld, or at least be clear on what laws and ethical rules you are breaking (Han, Jabba, Lando – we’re looking at you), this course will help you to understand, navigate, and influence the tricky universe of business regulations.

BUS210: Corporate Communication (I)
Any Imperial has had the secret thought that, in some ways, it must be so easy to be a Rebel – less bureaucracy, fewer meetings, more face time with those at the top of the hierarchy, and very few administrative requirements on friendly world. The Empire, meanwhile, is a sprawling organization that has to govern tenuously held territories, maintain a massive and complex supply chain, and coordinate the work and benefits of countless workers. Good internal communication is the key to great morale and effective operation, and it is a learned skill; this course will help Imperials at every level of the organization to assess communications structures and enact viable improvements for a more secure and successful Galactic Empire.

BUS301: Human Resource Management (R)
While we’re sure that employees of the Empire have their complaints, the Imperial recruiting and retention machine is a wonder to witness. The Rebel Alliance, on the other hand, needs all the help it can get; danger is high, benefits are non-existent, and the recruiting pipeline is made up of more holes than pipe. Although the Alliance cannot support a full HR department, members of the Alliance who find themselves in management positions will be able to use this course to learn how to retain and motivate employees, rewarding success and supporting ongoing skills development. Even in the mission-driven Alliance, ignoring human resources needs is a good way to end up always in need of human resources!

BUS403: Negotiations and Conflict Management (J, R, I)
War is not the continuation of diplomacy by other means, but rather with the addition of other means. Indeed, all sides in the Rebellion will be best served by continuing diplomatic contact and looking always for a negotiated end to the conflict – the few Jedi, who traditionally serve as emissaries, cannot hope to meet the need. Even a decisive military victory, reasonably within reach for the Empire, cannot hope to heal the rifts caused by the ongoing conflict. Those trained in the art of negotiation and conflict management combine the ability to objectively and critically analyze situations, while channeling their own empathy and promoting the parties’ sympathies, to obtain mutually-beneficial compromises. Any Rebel or Imperial who learns these skills now will be sure to have job security for years to come.

COMM411: Public Relations (I)
The Galactic Empire faces a tremendous challenge in shaping perceptions of its policies and actions. Any large organization can easily seem remote, opaque, monolithic, and out of touch with the needs and values of the people it serves. Any rational Imperial will acknowledge that the Empire has made mistakes, but its successes – prosperity, jobs, and stable political structures – are often overlooked by critics and brand-fans alike. The motivated Imperial will find in this course the tools to engage openly, authentically, and effectively with citizens, the media, and more.

Thanks to: Wookieepedia, Wikipedia, and

Image credits:

Banner: text rendered using SWOTR Tools’ Aurebesh Translator. Background image “Globular Cluster M15 from Hubble” (ESA, Hubble, NASA) via NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Photo: “Storm of the Century” by JD Hancock (Flickr | CC BY 2.0)

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