Jefferson 's "Declaration of Independence" assumed (held to be self evident) that everyone was endowed with "inalienable rights." What did he mean by that? Where did the idea come from? Do rights really exist? What do we mean by "civil" rights? This course will interrogate the concept of rights and explore concepts of freedom and conscience. We will read, discuss, and respond in writing to some of the important historical issues of political freedom and discuss their applicability to civil rights issues. The course will include a brief history of the concept of rights including discussions of current issues of human rights around the world and in the United States . We will spend some time looking at current US foreign and domestic policies in the light of rights issues. Yes, the Patriot Act, the war on Terror, and the war in Iraq will be focal points during this part of the course. We will use selections from relevant texts as well as documents archived on the WorldWideWeb and contemporary discussions of related issues in periodicals such as the Washington Post and NY Times. Emphases will be on critical reading and thinking, analysis and argument, persuasion, and clear prose.