Buying someone’s home not every day leads to a scholarship for a one-of-a-kind doctoral program, but that’s exactly what happened to Dr. Jonathan Feinberg. Feinberg created and is the director of the PhD program in creativity at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He bought a house and in a conversation with a salesman learned that it was Questlove’s manager, Sean Gee. He didn’t know that buying a home would lead to The Balvenie Fellowship in partnership with Oscar winner Questlove and the University of the Arts.
“I created this doctoral program because we still use a five-hundred-year-old model. In fact, that hasn’t changed. This is great for people who want to be very focused in the narrow sense, and they know what a field is, ”says Feinberg.
The program focuses on the study of creativity in a variety of fields, including the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Students of the program are tasked with exploring how creativity develops in each area. They are faced with the task of learning how ideas come together to create something. What happens in your brain when you are creative? What causes this?
This Doctor of Philosophy program is unlike any other not only because of its subject matter but also because of its execution. This is a low-residency program, only for a dissertation that takes only three years to complete. It takes six to seven years to complete most PhD programs. For this reason, the program selects students who already have training or professional experience in their field.
“We start with experienced people who are already professional researchers and are very good at doing something creative. We use group criticism and other ideas from art school practice. We are trying to break the hierarchy of common thinking about their field and create a committee for them from all over the world, ”says Feinberg. There are no tests or exams in this program. He encourages his students to focus exclusively on research for their dissertation and seek advice from their dissertation committee, which consists of three people who are experts in student research.
Feinberg is very passionate about this program. After meeting with Ji, he explained that he had read Questlow’s book “Creative Search” and even entrusted it to his students.
Creative Quest is one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read. He is so honest and smart in what he does. I thought my students really needed to read it, ”says Feinberg.
He felt that Questlove was in sync with the program, and wanted to talk to him so the Balvenie scholarship came true. Questlove and his team saw an opportunity to link this PhD program to their program with The Balvenie, a single malt plant for Scotch whiskey. The program, appropriately titled “Quest For Craft,” has a long-term mission to demonstrate the rapprochement of craft and creativity. It is designed to emphasize how uniqueness and creativity can be used not only in making music, as Questlove does, but also in distilling Scotch whiskey, as Balvenie does. The scholarship program in this PhD program also supports this partnership.
This The Balvenie Fellowship offers its recipient a three-year program that is fully funded by the PhD Creativity program, which begins in June 2022. In addition to intensive two-week summer dives and long weekend visits, all coursework will be completed through distance learning. Saxophonist James Brendan Lewis is the first recipient of this scholarship. He is a renowned saxophonist, composer and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. In June, he will embark on this three-year program, where he will reinforce his research on the intersection of molecular biology and music through the prism of art, life, and philosophy.
Questlow says: “We are honored to give this scholarship to James Brendan Lewis, who is already a well-established and incredible saxophonist. I look forward to what he will achieve by honing his skills in my hometown of Philadelphia, and the impact he will have on the music community. ”
Greg Levine, vice president of marketing for The Balvenie USA, says: “Because the alliance between The Balvenie and Questlove focuses on the creative process and the many forms it takes, we are always committed to uplifting others who hone their own craft into new and exciting ways that make James Brendan Lewis an ideal candidate for the PhD program. ”