Radical Economic Self-Defense Tour, Winter 2018

Help make our 2018 Radical Economic Self-Defense tour of the Mid-West and North-East a reality!

What we’re doing

This January and February we at the University of the Phoenix (Cassie Thornton and Max Haiven) are organizing a tour of the US Midwest and North-East to pilot our new Radical Economic Self-Defense course!

This free program is geared towards both those who have had the privilege to learn a lot about exploitative nature of capitalism and those who’ve only experienced it their whole lives. It is designed to be delivered in libraries, community-halls, trade-union temples, schools, and churches.

Conventional financial literacy classes individualize economic problems and stress personal success and competition.

Instead, our classes examine the historical, social, and cultural dimensions of debt, credit, and the financial system.

We explore collective solutions and social movements as a paths forward for liberation from debt, poverty, and oppression. We do not primarily seek to impart particular financial skills or advice. Rather, we want to empower ourselves by transforming our perspectives on the economy and our places within it.

Our course is made up of three interlocking components that can be offered together (over two or three days) or individually (as an evening or half-day workshop). Themes include:

  • Debts to the Future: Liberating ourselves, our ancestors, and our children from the elite financial system.

  • Debts to Society: Prisons, land, and the new struggles for abolition and collective liberation.

  • Debt and the Body: Overcoming the crisis of health and care in our lives and communities.

Our classes are developed and led from an anti-oppressive approach that is welcoming to all good people. We use an innovative variety of techniques including participatory lectures, multimedia presentations, facilitated discussions, small-group creative work, and accessible yoga.


Who we are

The University of the Phoenix (not to be confused with the similarly-named for-profit “university”) is an art, education, and activism platform of artist Cassie Thornton and scholar Max Haiven. It uses any means necessary to instill deep and liberating forms of financial literacy and solidarity. It has recently worked on projects in Puerto Rico, Amsterdam, Seville, Berlin, San Francisco and Thunder Bay.

Cassie Thornton is an artist who uses a variety of techniques to transform the lonely terrors instilled by capitalism into opportunities for collective transformation and solidarity. She has developed a peer-to-peer credit-reporting service, smuggled cursed paintings in bad banks, used hypnosis to help people visualize their debts, taught feminist economics through yoga, and had children use power-tools to dismantle the walls of financialization lodged in adults’ imaginations.

Max Haiven is Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice at Lakehead University on Anishinaabe territory under the Robinson-Superior treaty (Thunder Bay, Canada). He lectures around the world and is author of the books Crises of Imagination, Crises of Power: Capitalism, Creativity and the Commons and Cultures of Financialization: Fictitious Capital in Popular Culture and Everyday Life. He is director of the ReImagining Value Action Lab (RiVAL).

University of the Phoenix Economic Self-Defense Tour 2018

What we need

We currently are working with a variety of community groups, trade unions, libraries and other organizations and institutions throughout the Midwest and North-East of the USA to be able to offer our workshops. But in order to make this tour a reality, we need more partners.

Thankfully, we have some grant-money to help with travel and costs. But, in order to ensure our public workshops can be offered for free, we also need to partner with institutions and book speaking engagements at art schools and universities to help us cover our costs.

1. Please put us in touch with community-organizations (unions, libraries, faith groups, community organizations, etc.) who might be interested in hosting a workshop

We have tailored our course to be accessible to diverse audiences of any level of expertise or education. Workshops can be customized for as short as two-hours and as long as three days, with between 6 and 30 participants (participatory public lectures for larger audiences are also possible). We have an affordable sliding-scale of fees that simply cover our transportation and lodging.

2. Invite us to speak at your university or art school

We can speak, individually or together, about a range of subjects:

Together as University of the Phoenix

“Why we need a new form of financial literacy”

Artist talk: “Learning about Economics with the Dead”

Talks by Cassie Thornton

Artist talk: "Feminist economics and the people's apocalypse"

Artist talk: "Show me where it hurts: Debt and the body"

Talks by Max Haiven

"Art after money, money after art: Radical creative strategies against Financialization"

"Bad romance: Revenge politics, revenge culture and the revenge economy"

"What is the Radical Imagination?"

The University of the Phoenix is an independent and autonomous art and engagement project. These activities are funded in part through the ReImagining Value Action Lab (RiVAL), the Canada Research Chairs program and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Workshops are offered free of charge and have absolutely no objective to promote, sell or enroll participants in any particular scheme or cause.

How to contact us

Email: universityofthephoenix@riseup.net

Phone: (807) 343-8282