We often view finance as a niche area characterised by numbers, complex graphs, and professionals wielding obscure techniques, but the sector is in fact underpinned by human relationships, power dynamics and philosophical concepts that we all intuitively understand. Realising this is a great step towards keeping the financial commons open. At its core LSFA is about experiential learning, offering fun, adventurous, and experimental courses that immerse campaigners within the financial dark arts.


Workshop Series 1: A hacker approach to demystifying global finance

The financial system does not exist somewhere ‘out there’. It is everywhere around you. It exists in our own use of money, in the businesses we see on the streets, in the houses we live in, and even in the very words we speak. It’s one thing to learn about what an investment bank is supposed to do, but the heart of LSFA’s approach is to empower you to see the hidden flows of money and power that surround you wherever you may be, whether in the pub or in Goldman Sachs.

In the same way a technology hacker needs to openly explore a computer before being able to creatively jam it, so a financial hacker needs to explore and demystify the financial sector. This includes exploring 1) money 2) the financial intermediaries that steer money around the world and 3) the financial instruments they use to do that. In these courses we may visit a derivatives exchange, see how a trading platform works by using one, go through the actual manuals that a J.P. Morgan banker uses, and interact with financial models. We’ll analyse news stories in the Financial Times, taking on the persona of a fund manager, trader and corporate banker. We’ll seek to identify sources of disconnection in finance, and explore ways in which they may be reconnected.


Workshop Series 2: Hot topics in financial activism

The broader workshops aimed at generally demystifying finance are ideal for opening the door to more specific and in-depth workshops on the problems of the financial sector. These include:


Workshop series 3: Anthropology as activism

Anthropology offers interesting tools to gain access to and challenge powerful industries, but this is a comparatively under-explored area. There’s a lot of interesting work being done on financial anthropology and social studies of finance, but it all tends to be locked up in academia, rather than publicly accessible. While figures like David Graeber have raised the profile of economic anthropology as an engaged discipline, more needs to be done. These workshops are aimed at budding ethnographers who want to map out and explore the culture of high finance.


Workshop Series 4: Open source finance

Open Source culture is a useful framework through which to imagine alternatives to mainstream finance (which, in contrast to open source, is closed and exclusive). Here are some workshops exploring different aspects of this: