Professor of Biology
At North Park since: 1995
Alan Bjorkman is blunt about what an environmental science major needs to succeed after graduation. “It’s what you’ve done. That’s the bottom line,” he says.
That’s why he works hard to offer experiential learning opportunities for environmental science majors to boost their resumes—from an array of life-changing travel courses that take students from studying sustainable agriculture in prairies of South Dakota to tropical ecology in volcanoes of Costa Rica, to connecting students with internship opportunities at some of Chicago’s most renown museums and nature centers.
Dr. Bjorkman, called Al by his students, also encourages them to take additional classes through cooperative agreements that North Park University has with the Au Sable Institute, a Christian environmental organization, and the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area. Al works with students to pursue summer undergraduate research opportunities and says the ones who show flexibility and openness to new experiences are most likely to have the kinds of experiences that get noticed by employers. “You have to go places and do things outside of your comfort zone,” he says. “If you don’t do that, you don’t have a resume.”
Al was moved to care about and study the natural world during his own college experience at North Park, when he traveled across the American Southwest with faculty who tuned him into nature. “I want to be able to return that enthusiasm and insights about our natural world with all the students I come in contact with,” he says.
He takes advantage of Chicago’s resources, bringing classes like ecology and economic botany to city museums for field and outdoor experiences. Faith also factors strongly into his curriculum, which promotes understanding of Christian stewardship of the environment. “God created all we have, sustains it, and gives us a fuller life when we understand how nature works and how to care for it,” he says.
He is a member of the Society of Conservation Biology and Natural Areas Association.
- PhD, Land Resources, University of Wisconsin at Madison
- MS, Environmental Conservation Education, Michigan State University
- BA, Biology, North Park University
- Alan Bjorkman. "Recreational Trails of the Wissahickon Valley: An Evaluation to the Friends of the Wissahickon Board of Directors." Report on a site analysis of a mountain bicycle trail system. Philadelphia, January 30, 2004.