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In my world, there is a generation starship cruising through outer space. It’s been a long time since they have stepped foot on a planet. To make sure that everybody is safe, the leaders of the starship have all of the people living on the ship take survival courses to increase there a probability of survival. My question is what would be the most beneficial survival courses to teach people on the ship

Just to make it clear:

  • The planet the colony will be set on is extremely earthlike. Same amount of gravity, oxygen to breathe, and liquid/frozen water. It even has some life and it’s mostly non-hostile.
  • The people take these lessons as soon as they get on the ship, and when their kids turn 4 they go to school and are also taught.
  • The leaders want everyone to know the most useful survival skills.
  • They dont have replicators
  • They do have robots
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    $\begingroup$ This question needs more information. What technology will these settlers be using to survive? They don't need to learn farming skills if they have food replicators, for example; and they don't need tractor mechanic skills if they farm using star wars type droids. And, obviously, they don't need droid repair skills if they don't have droids. As it is, this question is 'primarily opinion based.' $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Dec 19 '17 at 2:19
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    $\begingroup$ If they have survived (and thrived) in space for generations en route, why would they want to live on a planet when they arrive? Seems more reasonable to start building orbital habitats. They already have all the survival skills for that. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Dec 19 '17 at 2:53
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    $\begingroup$ @sphennings A story decision? You're kidding? The necessity of survival skills for planetary colonization would be essential especially for migrants on a generation ship. Choosing suitable survival courses is a worldbuilding decision. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Dec 19 '17 at 4:20
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    $\begingroup$ @sphennings Worldbuilding includes strategies, social practices and institutions. It's not all cosmological plumbing. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Dec 19 '17 at 4:56
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    $\begingroup$ I voted "It's a question about a story set in a world, not about building a world", because, well, because it is, simple as that. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Dec 19 '17 at 9:39
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The most important courses would be ship maintenance since that would be the lifeblood of your people. It would provide everything they need and keep them alive even if they were to crash, and parts could be salvaged and used as required.

Since you seem to be focusing on survival on an earth like planet, then I think you would need the following courses (based on me watching a show called Law of the Jungle)

  • Water Gathering

    Humans can only survive a couple days without water. The most important part would be securing a water source, and if that isn't available, some method to extract water. e.g. From plants, evaporation of sea water, using the sun to evaporate the water, filtering it, etc

  • Fire Making

    Next is Fire which provides a way to cook the food and keep people warm. It can take a while, but once you have a single fire source, then you don't need to worry about the heat too much, you can cook all your food until its black to make it safer to eat and you can boil water if you don't have a clean water source

  • Shelter Building

    Once you have your bare necessities, shelter is next. Keeps you out of the rain and win, protects you from any wildlife and some harsh conditions. Also acts as storage for any food, water, wood, tools, so on.

  • Food Gathering (Gathering before Hunting)

    You can last a while before you die from hunger, but eventually you will need to eat. Gathering would be far more reliable than hunting and people would need to be trained on how to identify edible plants, fruits, nuts. Hunting would naturally follow on, since people would eventually want more, and it would provide a lot more energy. An Extension of hunting would be leather making , and using the animal parts you gathered to get clothes, but that isn't as important as securing a steady food supply

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I would be using your question and your points in my answer.

You asked "On a generation starship headed to a nearby planet, what would be the most beneficial survival courses to take?"

Then you pointed these out

1)The planet the colony will be set on is extremely earthlike. Same amount of gravity, oxygen to breathe, and liquid/frozen water. It even has some life and it’s mostly non-hostile.
2)The people take these lessons as soon as they get on the ship, and when their kids turn 4 they go to school and are also taught.
3)The leaders want everyone to know the most useful survival skills.

Which leads me to think that you want your "colonizers" to survive on a new planet.

These are the things which I have in mind.

1) Military exercises - The soonest that you dock your ship on something which you do not know what lies in it, you have to be prepared. you crew must all be equipped with the best weapons which they can use, and the best armors they could wear. To use them efficiently, your leader must train every crew member of any ship with the best military training ever to fully utilize their gears.

2) Life Sciences - (Anatomy, Chemistry, Biology.. etc.) Your crew is in a planet which they literally have no idea about the vegetation around them. They must learn how to classify if a plant or animal is edible or not, specially the crew who would be the "Pioneers" of the planet. Your crew must also classify if the planet is rich in usable materials and such.

I think these are the key factors which you need to have in order to survive on a new planet, my answer might be too broad for you, but you have to consider the fact that you have no idea about the planet, and your leader wants to colonize it. Your pioneers must survive their first days, and as you have pointed out, they came on spaceships, not on boats or any other primitive transport. So I think with these skills, your crew would survive from day one until they have conquered the planet.

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Any survival courses assumes you have knowledge of the flora and fauna of the planet beforehand.

You need to know what you can eat and drink, what is dangerous and safe.

The absolute best way to train this stuff is to allow everyone to live in a simulation of the planet while still on the ship. Have everyone start on the empty virtual planet and build like they would in real life. I'd assume the location for the settlement would have been mapped out by drones.

The good thing about this is it gives the people something to do while on the ship and should they make a mistake and get eaten or lost, they can respawn and try again.

When they finally do build the base, they will already be intimately familiar with the area and wildlife and will know exactly what to do.

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