Faculty Sponsor

Matthew Puffer


Christ College


Humanities, Public Health

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-28-2022


Before the start of the pandemic, wearing masks to curb the transmission of diseases was a niche societal norm specific to certain east asian countries such as China, Japan and Korea. It was also used as a method to protect people from bad air quality. With the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, the scientific and societal view on wearing masks reached a global scale such that wearing a mask is synonymous with caring for the health and safety of one’s community. Several factors have played a role in this paradigm shift in the use of masks including the media, politics and scientific evidence. While it is a medical necessity, it has become a societal responsibility causing there to be disagreements on its usefulness, its effects on the environment and for some a question of whether it took away people’s freedoms. In this study, the question of how and why masks have become a social responsibility as well as whether it will maintain its role even after the pandemic ends will be explored. We look at masks from a scientific but also philosophical lens in order to determine the juncture at which they meet. Wearing a mask has become the norm, but the underlying basis as to why this is goes much deeper than meets the eye. Community, politics, empathy, and science all play a role in how we perceive the use of masks in the COVID-19 pandemic; this project asks not why this is, but how.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Joy Kassel is a third year social work student at Valparaiso University and a member of Christ College from St. Louis, Missouri. She is active in the Social Action Leadership Team and Gamma Phi Beta Sorority on campus. Her research interests include mental health in the criminal justice system, macro level social work policy analysis, and implicit bias in policing.

William Neupert is a third year mechanical engineering and Christ College student at Valparaiso University. Outside of academics, William is a member of the varsity track & cross country teams and serves as a Co-Vice President of Valpo’s SAAC (Student Athlete Advisory Committee). Additionally, he serves as a representative for Valparaiso in the Missouri Valley Conference SAAC. His research interests include sustainable energy and process improvement.

Isoken Ogli is a third year Biomedical Engineering and Math student at Valparaiso University. She is a member of Christ College and is from Abuja, Nigeria. She holds the position of Senator for the University’s chapter for the National Society of Black Engineers and is a researcher for the Biomechanical research occurring on the campus. Her research interests include bionics, predictive injury modeling and sustainable energy.