Many people have been concerned by the severe shortages of toilet paper, among other household staples, on grocery store shelves. It's a teachable moment for W. Bernard Carlson, Joseph L. Vaughan Professor of Humanities and chair of the Department of Engineering and Society.

Carlson is an instructor for The Great Courses. News writers for "The Great Courses Daily," a website that applies content from the courses to current events, took information from Carlson's "Understanding the Inventions that Changed the World" course and applied it to the present dilemma, which includes concerns in large cities like New York that public sewer systems could become clogged by people flushing paper towels and baby wipes.

The article, entitled “Flushed Paper Towels, Wipes a Concern in NY Amid Toilet Paper Shortage,” shares Carlson's history of the innovations that led to modern toilet designs.