2015-2016 Luce Scholar

The Irrawaddy Chiang Mai, THAILAND

For his Luce year, Brandon Tensely will work at The Irrawaddy, a news magazine and online news website based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The Irrawaddy was founded in 1993 by a group of Burmese journalists living in exile in Thailand, with a mission to cover the news in Burma/Myanmar and Southeast Asia accurately and impartially. It is a leading source of reliable news, information, and analysis on Burma/Myanmar and the Southeast Asian region. From its inception, The Irrawaddy has been an independent news media group, unaffiliated with any political party, organization or government. Neither an advocacy group nor an NGO campaigning for particular causes, the Irrawaddy believes that media must be free and independent, and strives to preserve press freedom.

Brandon Tensley is from a lively black community in the oft-maligned state of South Carolina. At the moment, however, he is an M.Phil. candidate in Politics (European Politics and Society) at the University of Oxford, where his core interests lie at the intersection of minority politics (including LGBTQ rights) and nationalism in Europe. Outside of class Brandon is co-editor of EUspeak and Politics in Spires, two of the university’s online international affairs publications. His work has appeared in Time and The Week. Last year Brandon was one of six Oxford graduate students who were selected to represent Oxford at The Europaeum, a series of discussions at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on some of the challenges confronting Europe today. Before graduate school he was a Fulbright Scholar in Germany, where he taught a range of bilingual classes to middle and high schoolers in the urban Ruhr area and researched modern Germany’s particular brand of multiculturalism and treatment of ethnic and religious minorities. And prior to his Fulbright year, Brandon was an American Fellow of Humanity in Action (HIA), and spent a summer in Denmark and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He credits HIA with solidifying his passion for grappling with issues of human rights and social inequality. Brandon received his B.A. in German Studies and Political Science from Furman University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude in 2012. Brandon founded Men of Distinction, a local mentoring program for at-risk middle school males, in his junior year and stayed actively involved through college. He also enjoyed leading the university’s Model United Nations team to various competitions throughout the U.S. Brandon believes that context influences advocacy, and that exposures to other cultures will benefit his work in human rights policy. In his free time he enjoys trying to learn Briticisms, debating friends and strangers alike about cultural representations of feminism in pop music, and doing gymnastics – as a child he longed to be an Olympic gymnast.