Jesse Covington

Jesse Covington

Associate Professor of Political Science
Phone: (805) 565-6784
Office Location: Deane Hall 202

Office Hours
Only by appointment

Political Theory, Constitutional Law, Political Theology, Religion and Politics, First Amendment Law

Note: Dr. Covington is on sabbatical for the 2014-2015 academic year. During this year he is serving as the William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life with the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.

Jesse Covington is Associate Professor of Political Science at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, where he teaches and writes in the fields of political theory and constitutional law. He earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame, an M.A.R. in Religion at Westminster Theological Seminary, and a B.A. in Political Science from Pepperdine University.

Dr. Covington teaches much of the political theory curriculum at Westmont, which begins with the core major course “Political Theory and Ideology.” This course introduces major questions about the nature and ends of political life, orienting political theory within the context of a Christian liberal arts education and examining major ideological approaches to politics. Dr. Covington also teaches a three-semester sequence of seminars on the history of political theory (Classical, Modern, and Contemporary), as well as courses in American Political Thought and Christianity and Politics. He serves as the campus pre-law advisor and teaches Constitutional Law, a course that features a major trial simulation project. Dr. Covington was awarded Westmont’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award for the Social Science Division in 2009-10. He has also led Westmont’s Europe Semester (2013).

Dr. Covington’s research interests focus on the interrelation of religion and government, particularly as regards First Amendment law, natural law, and the foundations of political liberalism. His writing includes publications on John Locke, Saint Augustine, Natural Law, the First Amendment, and Christian liberal arts education. Dr. Covington is currently working on a book manuscript provisionally titled Taken on Faith: The Concept of Religion in First Amendment Jurisprudence. He is also engaged in an ongoing collaborative project on evangelical political thought.

Dr. Covington resides in Santa Barbara, CA with his wife and four children. He has taught at Westmont since 2007 and has also held appointments at Princeton University and Wheaton College.


  • Ph.D. Political Science, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN (2007)
  • M.A. Political Science, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN (2004)
  • M.A.R. Religion, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA (2000)
  • B.A. Political Science Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA (1997)

Selected Publications

  • Review essay of James K.A. Smith’s Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works, for Books and Culture. with Maurice Lee, Sarah Skripsky, and Lesa Stern. Forthcoming January/February 2014.
  •  “The Grammar of Virtue: St. Augustine and the Natural Law.” in Evangelical Political Theory and Natural Law. Edited by Jesse Covington, Bryan McGraw, and Micah Watson. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. 2012.
  • “Introduction” and “Editorial Epilogue.” with Bryan McGraw and Micah Watson in Evangelical Political Theory and Natural Law. Edited by Jesse Covington, Bryan McGraw, and Micah Watson. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. 2012.
  • “Habits of the Heart and Mind.” with Maurice Lee, Sarah Skripsky, and Lesa Stern. Review Essay of Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith and Learning, Ed. by David I. Smith and James K.A. Smith, in Books and Culture 18:4, July/August 2012.
  • “John Locke: Towards a Politics of Liberty.” (Michael Zuckert, Jesse Covington and James Thompson) in Richard Velkley, ed., Freedom and the Human Person. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press. 2007


  • Political Theory and Ideology (POL 30)
  • Constitutional Law (POL 104)
  • Classical Political Theory (POL 130)
  • Modern Political Theory (POL 131)
  • Contemporary Political Theory (POL-133)
  • American Political Thought (POL 132)
  • Christianity and Politics (POL 140)

Professional Associations

  • American Political Science Association
  • Christians in Political Science
  • Pacific Coast Association of Pre-Law Advisors