WMU alum and veteran journalist to deliver annual peace lecture

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Photo of Bob .

Koehler

KALAMAZOO—A veteran reporter, editor, columnist and author will deliver the annual Winnie Veenstra Peace Lecture next month at Western Michigan University.

Bob Koehler, a WMU alumnus who currently teaches writing at DePaul University, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15, in 208-209 Bernhard Center. His presentation, titled "Peace Journalism," is free and open to the public.

Bob Koehler

Koehler worked for 14 years as an editor at the Chicago Tribune syndicate, Tribune Media Services. Xenos Press published his book, "Courage Grows Strong at the Wound," in 2010.

Koehler grew up in Dearborn, Mich., and graduated from WMU in 1971. He earned a master's degree in fiction writing from Columbia College in 1995. A poet and proponent of the human potential movement, he has taken restorative justice and peace circle keeper training.

Koehler's first newspaper job was at the Plainwell Enterprise, north of Kalamazoo, where he laid out copy, sold ads and did occasional writing. He worked for a dozen years at the Lerner Newspaper chain, covering much of the North Side of Chicago, a pulsating, complex community. It was there that he realized that journalism was his destiny: to listen to people, hear their humanity and find the right words to convey it.

Koehler has written a weekly column for more than a third of his life. Since 1999, he has written a column that has been nationally syndicated by Tribune Media Services. Koehler's column started out more personal than political, then, after 9/11, when the war on terror began, he became increasingly focused on current events. For half a dozen years, he has called himself a "peace journalist."

In his presentation, Koehler will describe his story of becoming a peace journalist, a title that leaves no room for cynicism.

"It demands looking both within as well as beyond oneself for the story," Koehler says. "I think of my weekly columns as prayers disguised as op-eds."

Over the years, his column has appeared in dozens of newspapers, large and small, as well as on such websites as the Huffington Post and Common Dreams. Koehler has won several awards for his writing from a number of organizations, including the National Newspaper Association, Suburban Newspapers of America and the Chicago Headline Club.

Many of Koehler's columns, along with information about his book, are available at his website: commonwonders.com.

His presentation is part of the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society's fall 2012 lecture series and is funded by the center's Winnie Veenstra Endowment for Lectures on Peace.

For more information visit wmich.edu/ethics.