University News

Alan Bjerga, a longtime writer on food and agriculture for Bloomberg News and co-host of "Bloomberg Politics, Policy and Power," will deliver the annual Western Illinois University Robert and Mary Ferguson lecture.
[Download Print-Quality Image]

Robert and Mary Ferguson Lecture to Focus on U.S. Leadership in Global Agriculture

February 27, 2017


Share |
Printer friendly version

MACOMB, IL - - Alan Bjerga, a longtime writer on food and agriculture for Bloomberg News and co-host of "Bloomberg Politics, Policy and Power," will deliver the annual Robert and Mary Ferguson lecture at 3 p.m. Monday, March 6 in Morgan Hall, room 109.

His lecture, "U.S. Leadership in Global Agriculture: To Be Continued?" is sponsored by the Western Illinois University College of Business and Technology (CBT) and will coordinate with the WIU 2016-17 University theme, "Economy: Moral Challenges and Opportunities." It is open free to the public, and a question and answer session will follow the lecture.

Bjerga's writings on the global food system have given him bylines in 30 states and five continents, and his international reporting provided the foundation of the book he published in 2011, "Endless Appetites: How the Commodities Casino Creates Hunger and Unrest."

After growing up on a farm near Motley, MN, where his family raised sheep, sweet corn and alfafa, Bjerga earned a bachelor's degree in history and English literature from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, and a master's degree in mass communication from the University of Minnesota. Both have honored him for his work since graduation. Concordia bestowed its "Sent Forth" award for an outstanding young alumnus, and the University of Minnesota awarded him its "Notable Achievement" award for graduates of its School of Liberal Arts. The Minnesota Daily, where Bjerga was a managing editor, also gave him an inaugural "Above the Fold" award, given to outstanding alumni under 40.

Bjerga began his professional career in public radio and worked for the St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press, Sioux Falls (SD) Argus Leader and Wichita (KS) Eagle before arriving in Washington D.C. on the eve of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks and beginning his work for the Knight-Ridder Newspapers Washington bureau, which lasted from 2001-06. Along with his Bloomberg work, Bjerga served as president of the National Press Club (2010) and was president of the North American Agricultural Journalists (2010-11). In 2012, he began teaching as an adjunct lecturer at Georgetown University, and in 2016 he received its "Golden Bulldog" award for faculty dedication.

Bjerga is a frequent speaker and gave a TEDx talk on global food security in 2016 and has served as a keynote speaker for several conferences from state farm bureaus, agricultural science organizations and the N8 Agrifood consortium, a food-security effort led by the eight research universities of northern England. He has commented on food and agriculture for Bloomberg Television, RFD-TV, National Public Radio, the BBC and PBS Newshour and more.

Along with his professional work, Bjerga is an accomplished game-show contestant, appearing on both "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire," where he won $50,000, and "Jeopardy," with a second-place finish. He also plays guitar and has sung with "Honky Tonk Confidential," a retro/alternative country band.

Most recently, Bjerga spends his free time with his 2-year old daughter.

The Robert and Mary Ferguson lecture was started 25 years ago by the generosity of the late Robert (Bob) and his wife, Mary. Robert received his bachelor's degree from Western and later served as a professor and the business education chair for 20 years. He was instrumental in guiding the WIU Department of Business Education through numerous challenges, including the 1966 establishment of the WIU College of Business and Technology.

The lecture series is based on Robert's belief that all college students should benefit from the depth and breadth of experience, especially by seeing and hearing from key business leaders who have been successful.

For more information, contact the CBT at (309) 298-2442 or email CBT@wiu.edu.

Posted By: Alisha Looney (AA-Looney@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations