Institute of Politics

Ertharin Cousin

Former Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, Nominated by President Obama

  • Fall 2021 Pritzker Fellow

  • Seminar Series: "The Politics of Hunger"


Ertharin Cousin a global agriculture, food security and nutrition solutions thought leader and sustainability advocate. She currently serves as a Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy; a Distinguished Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs; a Visiting Scholar at the Stanford University, Center on Food Security and Environment; and as the CEO and Founder of Food Systems for the Future, a nutrition impact investment fund. From 2012 until 2017, Cousin led the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). In 2009, Cousin was nominated and confirmed as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome. Prior to her global hunger work, Cousin helped lead the U.S. domestic fight to end hunger including service as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of America’s Second Harvest - now Feeding America.


"The Politics of Hunger"

In 2021, how can anyone really remain hungry or malnourished? COVID-19 illuminated the disparities in both the domestic and international food systems, forcing us to rethink the often-asked question, “Don’t we grow more than enough food to feed everyone on the planet?” In fact, if America maintains the world’s most productive agriculture system, why were food bank lines long and grocery shelves empty? The data suggests a majority of people in our society “care” about the hungry and malnourished. Yet today, American children go to bed hungry. The medical and academic communities now acknowledge a correlation between the increase in noncommunicable disease, diet and poverty. A bipartisan Congressional hunger caucus has long championed the issue of ending hunger. New temporary emergency programs and increases in food assistance represent encouraging actions, but these time-limited programs fail to address the structural challenges of ending hunger in America. Internationally in 2020, COVID-19 exacerbated the protracted hunger problems, increasing the numbers of malnourished children and hungry families to a ten-year high of some 850 million. Former UN World Food Programme Executive Directors, Catherine Bertini, a lifelong Republican, and Ertharin Cousin, a Democratic policy advocate, will lead each seminar through lectures, readings, group debates and discussions. The class will explore the thorny issues and questions which shape the politics of domestic and international hunger.

Contact Form

Have Questions?

Newsletter Form

Stay Informed

Our emails are the best way to keep up-to-date on all of our events and programming.