Dr. Kun Chen Memorial Scholarship

Daughter, Friend, Scholar, Teacher we lost too young...

It is a new world, not just in the way we usually understand it, but in the field of anthropology.  Kun Chen was perfectly at home in that world.  Her dissertation research on transnational Chinese entrepreneurs was a ground-breaking study bringing together issues in migration theory, cultural change, and emerging technologies.   She continued her research even after her cancer diagnosis.  A few months before she passed away, while under heavy cancer treatment, she presented her research to two conferences:  a paper “Reflexive Subjectivity: An Ethnography of Transnational Chinese Professionals” at the American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences conference, and another paper “Understanding the Digital Tribe: Ethnographic Methods and Chinese High-technology Professionals” was presented to the annual Ethnographic & Qualitative Research Conference.  She was particularly fascinated by the new “sharing economy,” businesses like Uber and Airbnb, not necessarily because she thought they were good from a labor or community standpoint but because of their fluid organization and overnight global impact.

Her passion was exploring the relationship among technology, science and society.  Of course, this eco-cultural nexus has been a core theme of anthropology since its inception as a formal discipline. Kun was examining this theme within the globalization context, with her objective ultimately to discover how the modern political economy has come to drive it. This kind of study requires one to master many bodies of knowledge and literature. Kun was equal to this task, as reflected in her writing and lectures.

Dr. Chen

Dr. Chen was also interested in the micro-behaviors of individuals that propelled them into this new transnational, globalized world and allowed them to be comfortable and successful in it.  She loved the smartness and funniness of people everywhere, the ways young people have contrived to use social media and new computer technology for serious and frivolous purposes.  Naturally, she introduced this perspective into her courses, where she was enormously popular.  Her scholarship in cultural and applied anthropology was part of her teaching, advising, and service to the university.  She embodied the ideal of teacher-scholar.  Though her career was brief, she infected many students with the excitement of the quest for learning, the goal of putting anthropological ideas to work in the world, and the sense of freedom to explore one’s dreams on an international level.  Her students now studying in China, teaching in Thailand, or preparing for or attending graduate school carry her legacy of humanism instilled with scientific insight into the future.

Dr. Kun Chen started teaching at Cal Poly Pomona in September 2011 after she received her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley.  She instantly became one of the most popular professors among students.  She loved her students and her colleagues as well.  She envisioned that she would grow as a teacher-scholar here, while helping generations of her students to gain knowledge and skills and enter the world well prepared, just as she was. 

We aim to establish the Dr. Kun Chen Endowed Memorial Scholarship to help generations of future students who will continue what Kun started.  Our goal is to raise a minimum of $50,000 in funds to establish this endowed scholarship. In the event that the $50,000 goal is not reached by the year 2021, the scholarship will not be endowed, but will be awarded annually until funds are depleted. We hope her name will be forever associated with the department, the university, and future students she loved so much. 

Send a check or money order made payable to Cal Poly Pomona Foundation, and we will send you a receipt. Mail to:

College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences
Attn: Vanessa Franco
3801 W. Temple Ave. Bldg 5-158
Pomona, CA 91768
Checks can be made out to Cal Poly Pomona Foundation and indicate “Kun Chen Endowment”in the memo line.  Mail check to: College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences,
Attn: Vanessa Franco, 3801 W. Temple Ave. Bldg 5-158, Pomona, CA, 91768.   For those on campus, checks can also be dropped at the CLASS Dean’s Office 5-158.