About Dr. Y.C. James Yen

1190_444402452331436_378142483_nIIRR Founder & Chairman Sri. Dr.Y.C.James Yen, Philippines

           Dr. Y.C. James Yen (Chinese: 晏晏晏 Yan Yangchu) was born in Sichaun Province, China in 1890 and was a 1918 graduate of Yale University. His experiences teaching literacy to Chinese laborers in Europe, inspired him to go back to China and in 1923, Dr. Yen joined the Chinese National Association of the Mass Education Movement which supported mass literacy campaigns throughout China. He was a key leader in the movement as it pioneered experiments in integrated rural development. By 1940, Dr. Yen and his colleagues had established the National College of RuralReconstruction to train Chinese men and women as “reconstruction professionals”. In partnership with the Chinese-American Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction, he played an instrumental role in the development of Taiwan. In 1951, Dr. Yen, William Douglas, Fowler McCormick, Eleanor Roosevelt, and others formed the International Mass Education Movement for which Dr. Yen served as President. He then moved to the Philippines, where in 1952, Dr. Yen helped civic-minded leaders organize the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement. Because of his success in the Philippines, and his efforts at training and inspiring other development workers, similar movements were formed in Colombia, Guatemala, Ghana, Indian, and Thailand. In 1960, Dr. Yen established the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction to coordinate these efforts. Dr. Yen passed away in 1990 in New York City. His ashes are interred in the Yen Memorial Garden in front of his former home (now a museum) on the IIRR campus in The Philippines. Dr. Yen is considered a pioneer in the field of community-focused, participatory, integrated development and was a man of enormous vision. His wisdom and deep commitment to the world’s poor lives on through IIRR’s work.

1918    –    Dr. Yen travels to France to work with Chinese laborers on literacy

1921    –    Dr. Yen returns to China to head the Mass literacy campaign of the Chinese

                  National YMCA

1923    –    Dr. Yen Promotes Mass Education Movement in China

1928    –    Yale honors Dr. Yen with a Master’s degree for his literacy Movement in China

1943    –    Dr. Yen receives the Copernican Citation Award as one of ten outstanding

                 “Modern Revolutionaries

1952    –    Dr. Yen Promotes the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM)

1967    –    Dr. Yen receives the Order of the Golden Heart Award of the Republic of the


1976    –    Dr. Yen receives the Order of the Queztal, Guatemala’s highest award.

1983    –    Dr. Yen receives the Eisenhower Medallion for the People-to-People


1986    –    IIRR receives the Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding

                  IIRR receives the Alan Shawn Feinstein Hunger Award

1995    –    IIRR opens a Regional Center in Kenya

1997    –    IIRR opens offices in Ethiopia

2004    –    IIRR gives Washington Sycip with the Citizen of the World Award

2005    –    IIRR gives Carol Bellamy a Citizen of the World Award

                  IIRR opens offices in Uganda

2009    –    IIRR opens offices in South Sudan

                  IIRR bestows Citizen of the World award on James Johnson

2010    –    IIRR names Starr Foundation and Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton

               Citizens of  the World

2012    –    IIRR opens in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

A College is Named after Dr. Y.C. James Yen at

Kuppam, Chittoor (Dist), Andhra Pradesh, India

Dr.Y.C.James Yen