MA student Emma Brewis awarded internship with the Inter-Parliamentary Union

Postgraduate student Emma Brewis was recently selected for an internship to build the new global Public Engagement Hub.

The Hub is a partnership between the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the International Parliament Engagement Network (IPEN).

IPEN was set up in 2020 as a collaboration between the Centre for Democratic Politics at the University of Leeds and the UK House of Commons. 

Founded and chaired by Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira from the School of Politics and International Studies, IPEN’s key goal is to promote collaboration between academics and practitioners in the understanding of public engagement with parliament. The network brings together over 300 academics, parliamentary officials and third sector representatives from over 30 countries across the world. 

In May 2022, IPEN started to co-host the Public Engagement Hub of IPU with its Centre for Innovation in Parliament (CIP). Established in 1889, the IPU is a global organisation that facilitates parliamentary diplomacy and empowers parliaments and parliamentarians to promote peace, democracy and sustainable development around the world. 

Funded by IPU, the internship will give Emma access to and experience with the international organisation of parliaments, IPU, while supporting the development of IPEN. 

IPU and IPEN logos


Emma Brewis is in the first year of an ESRC-funded 1+3 PhD as part of the White Rose Doctoral Training Programme. Based at the University of Leeds, Emma’s internship runs from January to August and will be supervised by Professor Leston-Bandeira and Andy Richardson from IPU. 

Professor Leston-Bandeira has said that:

We are extremely proud of Emma to have secured such a prestigious internship. It is a testament to her academic achievements.

While Andy Richardson, Programme Manager of Parliamentary Standards and Knowledge at IPU, has commented that,

Emma’s internship will extend the partnership between IPU and IPEN on public engagement. We are looking forward to her contribution to sharing good practices and strengthening the global community on public engagement in the work of parliament.

Emma’s research interests are focussed around democratic processes and civic engagement in multiplayer online video games and digital spaces. About the internship and her research, she says,

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to work with the IPU and IPEN to be involved in inspiring work supporting public engagement. I’m so excited to be surrounded by experts in the area internationally and am looking forward to being part of the work on the Public Engagement Hub.

My PhD research will be exploring democratic processes – specifically participation and engagement – in online, multiplayer game spaces. I’m particularly interested in how and why engagement is so high in online role-playing elections and individuals are so motivated to take part in these processes.

Through my research and the internship, I am hoping to learn something about gaming environments and gamers to inform public engagement strategies and/or understand how games may be a part of this.