Part 7 of 8 in series "Online courses per topic"

When discussing the morality of markets, we cannot get around discussing the role of the finance sector. Here are 5 courses you might want to take to learn more about (the ethics and social role of) finance, money and banking:

  1. Just Money: Banking as if Society Mattered
  2. Money and Society
  3. Understanding Money: the History of Finance, Speculation and the Stock Market
  4. Economics of Money and Banking
  5. The Global Financial Crisis
  6. Financial Services after the Banking Crisis

1. Just Money: Banking as if Society Mattered

The course ‘Just Money: Banking as if Society Mattered’

“looks into banks that operate differently, namely, ‘just banks’ that use capital and finance as a tool to address social and ecological challenges. This course is for anyone who wants to understand the unique role banks play as intermediaries in our economy and how they can leverage that position to produce positive social, environmental, and economic change. The instructors of this course have worked for over 10 years with just banks from around the world, as well as in the fields of community development, economic democracy, and social change.”

It is a course by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), taught on the TedX platform. The option to earn a verified certificate is unfortunately closed, but you can still explore the course content. No previous knowledge of finance or banking needed.

2. Money and Society

The teaser for the online course ‘Money and Society’:

“Are you concerned with the banking system? Bemused or fascinated by bitcoin? Starting a local currency? Whereas most courses on money are intended for people with an economics background or banking future, this course is for people who are interested in understanding money from a social innovation perspective – it prepares the ground for answering how to create a better future by reshaping money and currency. The course is therefore highly interdisciplinary, drawing upon anthropology, sociology, history and heterodox economics.”

Four topics are subsequently being addressed in this course:

  1. An introduction to money: functions, forms, and fallacies
  2. The history of money and its discontents
  3. The problems with mainstream monetary systems
  4. Alternatives

This course, offered by the University of Cumbria (UK), dates from 2015. It was designed by Professor Jem Bendell PhD (IFLAS; Initiative for Leadership & Sustainability) and Matthew Slater BD (Community Forge). Although the course videos are still available, there is no longer a possibility to participate in assignments and get a certificate.

3. Understanding Money: the History of Finance, Speculation and the Stock Market

The course ‘Understanding Money’ “explores how money, investment and finance have been represented in arts, literature and popular culture over the last 300 years.” The more detailed course description:

“What is money? What does money do? How has the understanding of economics changed over the years? Explore the answers to these questions and more in this online course. On this course, you will learn how literary, cultural, visual and historical studies have offered new ways of understanding money and investment. You will look at popular representations of finance in visual culture and literature and explore the social meaning of credit, debt and the role of the market. You will also investigate financial crises in history and analyse how the media presents this information to the public.”

Topics covered are:

  • disciplinary debates regarding the function and histories of money;
  • money’s representations in art, literature and popular culture;
  • stocks, shares, investment and the national debt;
  • how investment cultures have changed and the role that technology and financial advice have played in them;
  • the causes and forms of financial crisis;
  • four case studies – the South Sea Bubble, the Railway Mania, the Wall Street Crash and the Global Financial Crisis of 2008.

The course is run on the FutureLearn platform and was developed by the University of South Hampton (UK).

4. Economics of Money and Banking

The official description of the course ‘Economics of Money and Banking’, taught by Prof. Perry G. Mehrling of Colombia University (United States):

“The last three or four decades have seen a remarkable evolution in the institutions that comprise the modern monetary system. The financial crisis of 2007-2009 is a wakeup call that we need a similar evolution in the analytical apparatus and theories that we use to understand that system. […] this course is an attempt to begin the process of new economic thinking by reviving and updating some forgotten traditions in monetary thought that have become newly relevant.”

The course was produced and sponsored by the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) on the Coursera platform. You can also watch the course videos directly on the INET website. Here it is mentioned that the course requires “some familiarity with economic reasoning and concepts and perhaps some familiarity with the subject matter (such as through job experience or an internship).

5. The Global Financial Crisis

The course ‘The Global Financial Crisis’ is running on Coursera and was created by former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy F. Geithner and Professor Andrew Metrick of Yale University (USA). According to the website of the Yale School of Management:

The course examines the causes of the financial crisis of 2008 and policy responses to that crisis, as well as lessons for future crises. It includes lectures by several prominent Yale faculty members, including Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller, economist John Geanakoplos, and Roberta Romano of Yale Law School.

After an introduction to The Global Financial Crisis, the course covers the following topics: the common causes of financial crises / housing and mortgages / safe assets and the global savings glut / the housing crisis / anxiety / panic / our Responses to the crisis / responding to future crises / Europe in the global financial crisis / the Eurozone crisis.

6. Finance Fundamentals: Financial Services after the Banking Crisis

In the course ‘Finance Fundamentals: Financial Services after the Banking Crisis’ you can “see what’s changed in the financial services industry in the last decade“. The full course description:

“The financial crisis of the late 2000s transformed the UK financial services industry. This online course takes stock and examines the industry today. You will review the history of the industry leading up to the financial crisis; examine its institutions and the issues they now grapple with; walk down the financial supermarket aisles and see what’s changing with the products on offer; and find out how the industry is now regulated and protects consumers.”

The following topics are covered:

  • The historical development of financial services in the UK
  • The 2007/08 financial crisis
  • The financial services industry after the financial crisis
  • The revisions to the regulation of the industry after the financial crisis
  • Financial products and new product offerings for consumers
  • The pensions revolution in the UK
  • How financial firms are regulated
  • How financial product sales are regulated
  • How consumers are protected and helped in the financial market place

The course is hosted on the FutureLearn platform and was created by the Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance, which is part of the Open University (UK). True Potential LLP provided generous support for its creation. The course is taught by Martin Upton.


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Series "Online courses per topic":

Do you feel like you have enough knowledge to contribute to debates in the area of the ethics of markets, economics and business? If not, this series of blog posts introduces ‘Massive Open Online Courses’ (MOOCs) that you can take from anywhere in the world.


Articles in this series:
  1. PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS and ECONOMICS – Six Foundational Online Courses
  2. (American) CAPITALISM, Chinese MARXISM and GLOBALIZATION – Five Online Courses
  3. ECONOMICS, INEQUALITY and WELL-BEING – Five Online Courses
  4. BUSINESS ETHICS – Five Online Courses
  5. ALTERNATIVE BUSINESS MODELS – Five Online Courses
  6. HOW MARKETS WORK – Five Online Economics Courses
  7. FINANCE, MONEY and BANKING – Six Online Courses
  8. THE HISTORY AND FUTURE OF CAPITALISM – Five Online Courses