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Cameron Waldman, '11

A Passion for Bioethics

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For UAlbany Honors College junior Cameron Waldman, “ethics is extremely empowering.”

Not only has it offered him a critical focus for studying today’s major issues and a foundation for his future, but it has also led him and other UAlbany students to a national stage in the collegiate ethics field.

A UAlbany team led by Waldman competed in the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl in Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 4. The bowl is an intercollegiate competition that challenges participating teams to develop and articulate the best analytically reasoned responses to a broad range of contemporary ethical issues. 

"For our first year at Nationals, we are extremely proud of our performance," said Waldman. During the first two matches, UAlbany took on some of the best veterans of the competition, losing to Carleton, and then - in an extremely close match - the U.S. Naval Academy. The UAlbany team went on to beat the University of Colorado, Denver, but didn't move into the top eight out of 30 teams.

"It wouldn't be possible for a rookie team to be able to qualify for nationals in a year if it wasn't for the extraordinary capabilities and expertise our professors have in the subject of applied ethics," said Waldman. "It astounds me. And all the while, learning from them has always been fun and engaging."

He credits philosophy professor Bonnie Steinbock and others, including Jon Mandle and Kristin Hessler, with bringing the team this far in so short a time. "Professor Steinbock has acted as our primary coach. Last year she would even take the time to meet with us at 8 a.m. when we would have practices from 7-10 a.m," said Waldman. The team practices 10-12 hours a week when competing.

"I don't think I've ever seen a student with such energy and commitment," said Steinbock of Waldman, who played a pivotal role in forming the UAlbany team that, for the first time last year, competed in the Bioethics Bowl at the National Undergraduate Bioethics Conference.

Waldman’s commitment to these teams is an outgrowth of his twin passions for bioethics and philosophy

Bioethics examines the moral controversies that arise in medicine and science, and Waldman says his interest in field began when he observed how his mother, a Long Island physical therapist, gave patients their lives back.

With the advent of managed care, business suffered and fewer claims were approved, and they moved to Reno, Nev. He returned to New York, to UAlbany, to learn how to address such problems.
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"UAlbany brought my journey to applied ethics full circle," said Waldman, who plans to become a lawyer specializing in health care and civil rights law.

"Ethics, for me, is about betterment for the world and for the people we care about," he said.

Distinguished Professor James Acker, Collins Fellow
UAlbany Faculty

Nearly 30 years ago, James Acker left a thriving law practice in North Carolina to pursue a Ph.D. and a career in academia at the University at Albany.

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