Professor Robert Marks teaches Chinese, Japanese, East Asian, and world history examining the historical relations between humans and the environment. His most recent book, The Origins of the Modern World — A Global and Ecological Narrative from the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-first Century, draws upon new scholarship on Asia, Africa and the new world to present a narrative of the origins of the modern worlds from 1400 to the present. Marks' previous book, Tigers, Rice, Silk and Silt: Environment and Economy in Late Imperial South China, was featured in New York Historical Society's "Books That Matter" campaign in 2008. He has published numerous articles in scholarly journals, and has been invited to lecture and present papers at colleges and universities around the world, including Harvard, Yale, Cambridge, Bergen (Norway), the University of California, Berkeley, Pomona College, and Illinois Wesleyan.
In 2002, Marks was named the Richard and Billie Deihl Professor of History, a year after he received the Harry Nerhood Teaching Excellence Award. Like many professors here at Whittier College, Marks has helped engage students in research for his various books and articles, including, Origins of the Modern World. Students were given the opportunity to critique Marks' work and suggest additional materials. Marks served on the AP World History Development Committee and as director for the California World History Association; he serves on the editorial board of the journals Environment and History, Nature and Culture, and Oecologie.
Marks is fluent in Chinese and has taught at Whittier College since 1978.