Money – myths, magic, morals and markets

Course Dates: 08/01/24 - 18/03/24
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: Keeley Street
Money is the most powerful energy in the world. Without understanding its nature, its function, where it comes from, and how to control it, it will badly burn us.
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Full fee £189.00 Senior fee £189.00 Concession £123.00

Money – myths, magic, morals and markets
  • Course Code: HPC158
  • Dates: 08/01/24 - 18/03/24
  • Time: 18:00 - 19:30
  • Taught: Mon, Evening
  • Duration: 11 sessions (over 11 weeks)
  • Location: Keeley Street
  • Tutor: Christian Michel

Course Code: HPC158

Mon, eve, 08 Jan - 18 Mar '24

Duration: 11 sessions (over 11 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

It makes the world go round, a consuming passion, a source of personal stress, a central issue in public policy, and for some, the root of all evils – money is the subject of this course. We will define its nature (debunking the myths), reveal how it comes into the world (the magic), discuss the effect it has on society (the morals), and show how it moves across social classes and continents (the markets)
The course is about the place of money in society and in our lives. Money is a motive for individual action and a main factor in public decisions. But like all powerful energies, it consumes those too unwise to handle it, causing economic exuberance and excessive debt, financial booms and busts, personal and collective crises. The course will examine the nature of money, its proper function in society, how to control it for our collective benefit. We will be drawing on the works of Classical Economists, Marxists, Keynesians, Anarchists, Austrians, and recent advocates of the Modern Monetary Theory. But beyond economics, we will invite anthropologists, like David Graeber (Debt: The First 5000 Years), sociologists like Georg Simmel (The Philosophy of Money), psychologists, from Erich Fromm to Morgan Housel, and moral thinkers as diverse as Ayn Rand and Pope Francis.

What will we cover?

The course will cover the history of money, its emergence – some historians assume as a substitute for barter, others as a way for sovereigns to easily raise taxes. We will examine today’s production of money by countries’ central banks, and surprisingly by the private sector. We will look at the forms it takes, from metals to digital, and what it means for the planet. We will explain why an unrestrained creation of money amplifies the economic cycles of expansions/recessions, fuels financial crises and causes obscene wealth inequalities.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- identify and discuss the true nature of money, its production and functions, as condition for being an informed citizen and responsible actor in society.
- connect past and present of monetary history.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is open to all, who are curious about the state of the world. The only requisite is an open mind, a willingness to rationally engage with provocative ideas, listen to others, and think.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course will include the tutor’s presentations of the different ideas under consideration, often with slides, and will encourage lively students’ discussions. The tutor will circulate the slides after each lesson, sometimes with short “thinkpieces”, which will be optional reading for the following lesson.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

There are no other costs. Albeit students will receive the slides used in class with notes and comments after each lesson, many will bring a pen and paper or an electronic device to jot down ideas gleaned during the presentations and discussions.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Please explore our sections on Economics, Politics and Current affairs on our website.

Christian Michel

After a brief stint at Sorbonne University reading French Lit and odd jobs in the film industry, Christian Michel joined a financial firm in Paris, before moving to Geneva, working on projects in West Africa and Russia. To use a common metaphor, business is only looking at trees, whereas Christian was keen to gain a perspective on the whole forest. He developed an interest in economics, questioning the purpose of it all – why work, why trade, why money, why growth, and what effects do production and consumption have on us, on our society and on nature. Christian has written a couple of books (in French) on these topics and many articles. He has been teaching various courses at City Lit since 2013.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.